Rural farmlands reluctantly gave way to low, rocky hills and grassy plains as the group headed eastward. Two and a half days of travel brought them to a low rise along the lightly traveled road. Upon reaching the top of the rise, a curious scene appeared before them. A mushroom-shaped two story building sat huddled against a small but dense forest, juxtaposed with a towering metal structure where a dozen cages hung from metal arms that jutted out from the main shaft. Sunk into the ground nearby was a large pit full of recently turned dirt. Three humanoids moved about at the base of the artificial tree while scores of black birds flew around the cages. As they watched from their horses, debating whether to approach this strange place, a strong breeze swept up over the hill, carrying with it the scent of death and decay.
A quick survey of the landscape revealed little in the way of options but to go forward along the path and through this seemingly empty settlement. A steep, rocky hill rose up to their left and to the right lie the thick forest. Pressing on, they approaching the two-storied building slowly. They hitched their horses to a post near a cart parked by the front doors. The three hobgoblins by the gibbet tree paid no attention to them; they were busy taunting a man in one of the cages who was pleading his innocence.
When nobody answered a knock on the doors, the group entered to find a half-dozen dwarves bartering with a half-orc over owlbear furs on a table between them and a hooded man sitting apart from the negotiations. The main room was open to the second floor, which ringed the first. Crates, barrels, jars, and other goods sat gathered upon the walkway above. Not wanting to interrupt the discussion going on in the back of the room, Bree approached the hooded man, and asked for help.
He introduced himself as Millen, and named the half-orc Fulgrim. He had no information about the temple site the group sought, but did offer information of another sort. He possessed, he claimed, an ability to see a short time into the future. He pulled back his hood, and further claimed that this ability came from one of his eyes, which was completely silver. The removal of his hood revealed Millen to be an elf, and the elf promised he would look into their future for a price.
In exchange for their gold, the party was told to watch for an old, large oak tree that would stand near the place they sought. They were also told that they may find conflict there. When he was done with his divinations, Millen offered to sell them supplies or provisions. His offer declined, he then suggested that he had a special stash of higher quality goods, kept in the graveyard nearby. Suspicions arose, but Lam and Talendil agreed to follow the elf to this stash to see what he might offer. Bree and Mara-kai opted to seek out one of the dwarves who had walked outside.
The genasi and the halfling found the dwarf near the cart, and after chatting with him for a few minutes discovered that his group were hunters, trappers, and scavengers. They were headed east when they concluded their business at this trade post and the dwarf said he’d talk to the leader of their band about possibly joining up for a while on the road as they were headed in the same direction as the party.
Millen, pulling a wrinkled bit of parchment from his cloak, led the eladrin and the changeling to the depression in the earth that they had passed on their way to the mushroom-shaped trade post. He walked past several open graves and as many mounds of earth before stopping, grabbing a nearby shovel and starting to dig.
Watching the elf work, Lam and Talendil failed to notice that they were not alone in the graveyard. A dessicated hand grabbed at Lam’s shoulder and moments later he and the eladrin were engaged with a half-dozen risen corpses. Their shouts carried over the yard to the trade post, alerting Bree and Mara-kai. Talendil gave Millen a questioning look which was answered with a sly grin and a shrug.
The group just managed to dispatch the zombies, with Millen running off to the main building after catching the brunt of one of Lam’s spells. They gave chase, incensed at being misled. Lam, Talendil, and Mara-kai set to lighting the building on fire, inside and out. Bree managed to persuade some of the dwarves to not attack as the party entered into combat with Fulgrim and the rest of the dwarves who sided with him. The half-orc guarded the stairs leading to the second level, where Talendil spotted Millen standing and watching the altercation. During the battle, goods from the upper floor flew down to strike Talendil and Mara-kai. As they finished with the dwarves, the fires spread further up the walls and over the floor of the trade post. The party retreated out the front doors and Fulgrim fled up the stairs.
There was no sign of the half-orc, the elf, or the hobgoblins outside. A brief chat with the dwarves smoothed some tension but many were still upset over their main source of income being burnt down and were unwilling to be persuaded. The party would continue Eastward alone. Shouts from the gibbet tree brought their attention to the man who had been pleading with his captors earlier. In the other cages, zombies stirred. The human begged to be released. After he was freed and the undead dealt with, they agreed to give him a ride back to his village further up the road.
As they set out, he warned them that the reception might not be as warm as they might expect…
Welcome to level 2!
Quest XP: 0
Encounter XP: 1,700
Role Playing XP: 50
Total XP Per PC For This Session: 475
Current Total Shared XP For The Campaign: 1,316
Bonus Individual XP:
Lam: 20 (Character background.)
Mara-kai: 30 (Character portrait, pictures in Dropbox.)
Total Treasure For This Session: 0GP