Author: DM Dracowayfarer
We’re part of a story, part of a tale
Sometimes beautiful, sometimes insane
No one remembers how it began.
— Within Temptation, “Never Ending Story”
In the Vale, the start of every season is welcomed with a great Faire.
As Winter was breathing its final, frigid breaths, the people of the Vale gathered together to celebrate its passing, and this year, the city of Arislen played host to the Spring revels. For days leading up to the Spring equinox, a village-sized assortment of tents, carts, stages, and attractions gathered outside the walls of the city. Within the city, businesses, guilds, and the nobility made their own preparations for the influx of visiting celebrants.
Such an event is viewed by some guilds, especially adventuring outfits, as a prime recruitment opportunity. Luthien’s Golden Leaves, being one of the larger adventuring guilds in the city, sent out many of its members to find fresh faces to swell its ranks.
Lam, recently recruited to the guild himself, was put to just that task in the fields outside the city, and among the throngs of patrons and spectators he discovered Bree, Talendil, and Mara-kai. He brought to the guild’s tent on the fairegrounds, where each was awarded a 50 gold recruitment bonus for agreeing to join the guild. Once that business was concluded, Lam collected the 15 gold per head promised to those who were sent out recruit.
As the Faire concluded, in a public ceremony on the grand stage, representatives from the Winter Court of Faerie symbolically enacted the transfer of authority to representatives of the Spring Court. Talendil, seeing familiar faces among the Winter Court delegation, did his best to remain unseen.
When the group finally made their way back into the city, Guildmaster Daryn instructed Lam to give the newcomers a tour of Luthien’s guild hall. After a night of rest there, the group was offered its first assignment: to investigate rumors of bandits raiding a small farming village and holding up travelers just outside of Arislen.
A short walk beyond the city’s southern gate led them to a half-dozen buildings surrounded by small, patchwork fields. They made their first stop the local alehouse, where the serving maid, Mary, and her parents were quite flustered to find some adventurers in town to see about their problems, especially when Mara-kai found her way into the kitchen and started helping with the dishes. Meanwhile, Bree, acting on a plan the group had put together, sought out the local blacksmith, Garron.
She found him toiling at his forge at the edge of the village. With a little persuading, and a promise to bring both back safely, she secured the use of his old mule and cart. Thus equipped, the group set out on the muddy, well traveled dirt road into a thick grove south of the village.
It was not long before they drew some attention, as a ragged looking dwarf stumbled out from the trees onto the road in front of them. A quick exchange of words made it clear he intended to rob them, and Lam stepped down from the cart to discuss the matter. Protesting that they had little to take, Lam offered up his wizard’s orb. Curious, the dwarf advanced, only to find himself rocked back by a spell of thunder summoned by the changeling. Alerted, Talendil and Mara-kai sprang from the back of the cart, where they had been huddled and hidden under their tents. Not a moment later, spooked by the unexpected noise, the mule bolted down the road, with Bree still seated on the cart. Lam found himself nearly run over, and wound up on his back in the mud.
A brief battle ensued, with another dwarf and two goblins joining the fray. Lam came close to death as the goblins pounced on him, and Bree found herself separated from the rest of the party after calming the mule and stopping the cart. Eventually the group managed to gain the upper hand and, when he saw things starting to turn against him, one of the dwarves summoned forth a elemental of water from the Foundation with a pendant he wore. Despite the extra help, the goblins and dwarves still met their end there on the road. Talendil managed to convince one of the goblins to reveal their hideout. He then set the goblin free, and it ran off somewhere to the east.
After returning the mule and cart as promised, the group headed back into the woods. The sun had begun to set, casting shadows over the small cave the goblin had suggested was the bandits’ lair. The cave sat at the base of what appeared to be a medium-sized rocky outcropping, but on closer inspection, some of the stones appeared to be hewn. Except for Bree, the group had to crouch as they entered the cave’s opening, and found the ground descending before them until they stepped out into a larger, pitch dark space.
The light offered by a quick spell cast by Lam upon Talendil’s sword did not offer much, as the room was barren. It was, however, a room. The walls, floor and ceiling were clearly hand-made. This was no naturally-formed cavern. Ahead of them was a hallway, and while they stood in the room, growls echoed from further down in the darkness of the hall, followed by the sharp, clear command of “Sic!”
Shortly, they found themselves set upon by wolves and several humans. After quickly dispatching them, the group moved on down the hall. Beyond a pair of doors they found a crypt with several stone sarcophagi, upon which were carved symbols and writings considered holy to followers of the god Asmodeus. Investigating an open sarcophagus lid, Talendil unwittingly provoked the attention of an ochre jelly. The ooze seeped up and out onto the floor, where it then attempted, and failed, to devour the party.
Within another of the sarcophagi they discovered what appeared to be, from the jewelry and remains of its clothing, the corpse of a priest of Asmodeus. Taking the bejeweled staff and necklace for the guild, the party found their progress halted by a set of barred doors, which also bore the holy sigil of the Lord of Hel.
Pounding on the doors, they drew the attention of another dwarf, who proceeded to negotiate with the party. When negotiations dragged on, Talendil found a crack between the doors, and stepped through faerie to emerge on the other side, where he discovered the dwarf to be alone save for a single goblin who tried, and failed, to sneak up on him as he held the dwarf against the doors. The party elected to let the duo live, on the condition that they agreed to join the guild.
Collecting the goods and treasure pilfered by the bandits, the group returned to the village where some of the items were reclaimed by their owners. Upon returning to the city, they handed what remained, along with the staff, necklace, and the two bandits over to Daryn, who thanked them and promised that they could collect their share of the takings the next day from the guild’s quartermaster.
Quest XP: 50 ( Bandits!)
Encounter XP: 318
Total XP For This Session: 368
Total Treasure For This Session: 195gp (Guild recruitment.)
3 Ochre Jelly image is © Wizards of the Coast.