The remaining journey was only a few hours, but O’Dell had decided that a paladin was his course and shared his decision with Klang. Klang always baffled by an officer’s lack of common sense simply nodded knowingly. That’s about when Slink caught up with them and O’Dell greeted him in friendship.
As they approached Phandalin, they joined a caravan into town. Phandalin is a frontier town with little in the way of law and order, certainly no city gate nor guards to inspect them for contraband. It is a frontier settlement of farmers and prospectors looking for wealth in the Sword Mountains. It was not unusual to see folks with weapons openly displayed – a perfect place for adventurers.
Seeking to avoid further conversation about O’Dell’s dubious decision making process, Klang struck up a conversation with a dwarven guard – Taklaan Hammerlock – from the caravan. Taklaan’s charisma soon had him chatting up both Klang and O’Dell, and soon they found a certain affinity only dwarves understand.
Sildar, spotting a lone Dragonborn in the caravan, got curious why one would be headed to Phandalin – a nearly all human town. He could make a good addition to the Lord’s Alliance if he was anything like what he’d heard of them. Chatting up the Dragonborn, Sildar learned his name was Goldtooth and that he had been traveling with the caravan for safety, but was still seemingly out of place among them. He wore little in the way of armor or weapons, suggesting he was not an adventurer. Yet he had a certain aura about him – something…magical you might say.
Sildar introduced Goldtooth to the dwarves who were becoming fast friends. The combined camaraderie of the dwarves rubbed off on Goldtooth – something he had missed as a hermit. Yet he knew better than to reveal his magical abilities or else they’d have him doing parlor tricks. He held on to his staff and enjoyed the dwarven banter, but offered little of his background…other than he had been a hermit until recently.
The dwarves agreed they could use someone of his formidable stature when dealing with humans. He had impressed Sildar, so maybe they could get more respect with a hulking Dragonborn, even if he wasn’t armored or carrying any obvious weapons.
Phandalin was a town of 40-50 log buildings adjacent to a woods and was surrounded by scattered ancient ruins. A large manor on a hill stood in the distance on the far side of town as they entered. As is often the case with humans, many were idle or at least did not appear to be working very hard – at least not by dwarven standards. Even the main road was mere muddy tracks.
Sildar explained that the history of Phandalin. The ancient city had a cavern system that was supposedly full of gems and veins of rare metals. They were supposedly able to make magical weapons in those caverns. Many have started mining again with mixed results. That was why Gundren and his fellow dwarves were here…and why Sildar was wooing them…to get the ancient mines and hopefully find the secrets to magical weapon making in the Wave Echo Cave that they believe they found.
Sildar guided the party to the Stonehill Inn near the center of town. There, Sildar offered to put the party up for a few days at his expense. While O’Dell’s officer training had him enter humbly, Klang was of a different mind, barging in and going straight for the bar and downing the strongest thing they had to offer.
While Klang made small talk with the bar wench, O’Dell and others were more respectful of the proprietor and his wife, and started asking about recent events. The Redbrands were a persistent topic of everyone they spoke to at the inn, even down to Pip, the proprietor’s son. They learned of Fel Dendar, a local (Thel Dendrar, a local woodcarver) who stood up to the Redbrands, was murdered by them in public in the middle of the day. His wife and child were taken away a short time later. They advised we stay away from the Sleeping Dragon Inn and noted that the Sleeping Giant tap house was where the Redbrands could be found congregating.
When asked if there were witnesses, they suggested talking to Freda the weaver…who happened to be present at the inn for lunch as it was midday. Freda spoke up and confirmed that she indeed saw this happen.
The party learned from Pip that he’s seen the Redbrands using a tunnel under the manor. Pip is keen on becoming an adventurer and O’Dell gives him a dagger, warning him that it should only be used when all else fails.
The party learned about the Phandalin Miner’s Exchange (or PHE) and it’s leader Halia Thornton, who the Redbrands seem to leave alone, possibly due to it’s (and her) critical importance in revitalizing the town or perhaps due to a strange relationship between them of some kind.
Orcs seem to be a nearby threat at the east end of Triboar Trail outside of town.
After downing some cabbage stew, the party visited Linene (35 year old human female) at her Lionshield Coster store. Sure enough, she was grateful to have her items returned and thanking the party with 25 gold.
She commented that many trade shipments have been lost lately and the elimination of the goblin band should help with that. She also cautioned the party away from the Sleeping Giant tap house if we wanted to avoid the Redbrands.
Goldtooth purchased a crossbow and 20 bolts from Linene among other adventuring items.
Next was a visit to Barthan’s Provisions to deliver the provisions as promised. Elmar Barthan was glad to see the party and had a well stocked store. He honored his end of the bargain by paying each of the party (including the goblin) 10 gold. Taklaan purchased smoked glasses to help him adjust to living above ground, which was causing him some distress.
He, too, filled us in on the history of Phandalin. About 500 years ago, the dwarves and gnomes in the area made a pact to work together to exploit the mine of wealth found in the areas caverns. They found/created a magical place for crafting magical weapons called the Wave Echo Cave. Before it got into full production, Orcs and Wizard interrupted their efforts, with an earthquake burying the mine and driving them dwarves and gnomes from the area. With mine lost and miners driven away, the Wave Echo Cave’s exact location was forgotten.
Elmar noted that Nundro and Thardin have been gone exploring for about 10 days and he expects them back soon. He assumes they are searching for the Wave Echo Cave. He also noted that the Town Master – Harbin Wester – posted a note asking for help in dealing with the local Orc problem.
Upon visiting the town master’s hall, there was indeed a note posted seeking assistance in dealing with the Orcs along the Triboar Trail at the Wyvern Tor (a place that formerly was the nesting location for group of wyvern). Speaking with Harbin, the party was offered 500 gold for finding and driving off the leader of the Cragmaw Castle. Harbin also offered 200 gold for putting an end to the Redbrands.
Sildar, who was also present, reminded the party that he’s concerned about a dark bearded wizard acquaintance and friend named Iarno Albrek. He was last seen working near the Tresendar manor. Sildar paid the party the 50 gold he promised for escorting him back to Phandalin.
At this point, Sildar pulled O’Dell aside and asked him to join the Lord’s Alliance faction. O’Dell said he’d think about it.
A farmer who happens to be present comments that Sister Garaele recently left town for a few days and when she returned, she appeared quite exhausted. They explain she is the overseer of the Shrine of Luck.
Visit the Sister Garaele. The shrine is built from stones obtained from the surrounding ruins – much more solid than other town structures. Party learns the shrine is to the goddess Timora. She explains she that she had a tussle with a banshee who was not agreeable to answering some questions. She asks Goldtooth (with the highest charisma) to coax the banashee to telling him about Bowgentle’s spell book’s location by offering her an emerald comb. Goldtooth accepts the task, but explains that the party has a few other quests to finish before he can get to it.
She adds that the Redbrands are operating from tunnels under the Tresendar manor. The north east ruins, by Old Owl Well, has had undead sightings and is driving off prospectors. These are Netheral Ruins – a really ancient and powerful race.
Visited Daran Edermath who asked about joining the “Order of the Gauntlet” faction. Klang had heard of Daran while in Neverwinter. Daran confirmed his desire to “teach the Redbrands a lesson” and pointed the party to the Sleeping Giant tap house. Having been an adventurer, the Redbrands had not yet bothered him for protection money.
Visited the Phandalin Miner Exchange and spoke with Halia Thornton, it’s Guildmaster. She readily exchanged our many copper to silver and silver to gold (and gold teeth to equivalent coins). She asked Klang about joining the Zhentarim. Klang having some knowledge of the organization from his mercenary work decided to pass on the offer. She, like everyone else, sees the town master as a fat, lazy fool. She wants to take control of the town, possibly when his term is up after a year. When discussing the Redbrands, she offered us 100 gold for the papers and correspondence held by the group’s leader should we manage to obtain them. Taklaan asked if there was a smithy in town and she said no and that they send all their work to larger cities like Neverwinter or Waterdeep, which seemed odd even for a frontier town.
Our final stop was the Alderleaf Farm to speak with a halfling named Qelline Alderleaf who’s boy Carp (a precocious brat) saw the Redbrands using a tunnel leading underneath the manor. This confirmed the story we got from Pip. She also confirmed that the Redbrands hassle everyone in town for extortion money. She offered to let the party stay in her barn, should we need it. O’Dell explained that we had quarters arranged in town already, but might take her up on her offer when those arrangements ended.
Qelline explained about a druid – Reidorth – from Thundertree who might be able to lend the party aid. However, he visits irregularly as Thundertree is a small village in the mountains west of Neverwinter, a good 50 miles north west of Phandalin.
We thanked Qelline and left, but were intercepted by a group of 4 Redbrand ruffians only a few hundred feet from the farm. After a brief scuffle, the party managed to subdue 3 while one was burned to ash by Goldtooth’s unexpected display of magic. After collecting 3 short swords and 3 sets of studded leather armor from them, some paladin-like interrogation revealed more information:
Glassstaff has a spell book
the Black Spider is a female with dark skin, possibly Drow
there’s a hideous one-eyed monster in the lower level of the manor’s tunnels
the prisoners are being kept in the old crypts
most Redbrands are from out of town
Taklaan checked that Qelline and Carp were safe. The party took the ruffians to the town master for incarceration and eventual justice, then it was back to the Stonehill Inn to eat and rest for the night. It was a long day in a small town.
On many occasions when offered rewards by locals, O’Dell, feeling his paladin groove, declined. Klang, however, is quick to accept on the party’s behalf. There’s some notion that O’Dell’s share of the loot might be slightly less than his fellow party members as a result.
In the morning with a long rest under their belts and bellies full, the party felt ready for a day of adventure. After gaining parental approval from Toblen Stonehill (owner of the Stonehill Inn) and his wife Elsa (the barmaid), the team had Pip show them the way to the tunnel entrance. Sure enough, it appeared to lead under the manor and fresh tracks indicated frequent use. Pip was sent home, and while Klang was willing to escort him, the party felt that was unnecessary.
Inside the cave was a large room with a 5 feet wide and 20 foot deep crevasse that ran its length. Two bridges spanned the crevasse, but both appeared to be rigged to drop. All the party members moved behind a large stalagmite as they heard a voice in their heads – “your days are numbered”. After a failed negotiation over horse meat for unfettered passage, Taklaan cast detect magic and identified several items nearby, the first was a creature against which he attempted a tricky move that earned him some necrotic rotting gaze from a Nothic. O’Dell was quick to restore Taklaan’s health. The fight was on…and quickly over as powerful magic was hurled at the Nothic, dispatching it.
Have raise no apparent alarm, Taklaan explained the magic he detected – the bottom of the crevasse was enchanted with necrotic magic to keep it cold. There was something else – a chest with a magic scroll (Augury) and magic sword, plus 160 silver, 120 gold, and 5 Malachite gems (15 gold each). Upon closer inspection, the sword was identified as “Talon”, the sword of Eldith Tresendar, the previous owner of the manor. Also found was the remains of what appeared to be a townsman, probably Thel Dendar, and was left there until time permitted its return to town.
The party found three exits from the room and chose the one most traveled. A brief decent led to a hallway with two closed doors. After listening to the nearest, they heard what sounded like a creature being taunted in goblin. A quick entrance into the room found a goblin being treated like a dog by three hairy bugbears. The goblin feinted and the bugbears attacked. This fight was more challenging, but ended in a similar way – with two dead bugbears and one captured.
Having restrained the captive bugbear, the interrogation revealed only that he knew the locations of Cragmaw Castle and the Wave Echo Cave. When asked about the Black Spider, he clammed up.
Reviving the goblin and offering him the quickly decaying horse meat won him over. We let him kill the captive bugbear, which please him greatly. The ensuing dialog resulted in learning his name was “Droop” and a hastily drawn map of these tunnels including all the secret doors and most of the rooms’ occupants.
Loot from the bugbears: 33 silver, jewel encrusted eye patch (50 gold), three morning stars and some javelins, plus an iron key that opens all the doors in these tunnels. It was time for a short rest and some tactical decision making about how to proceed.
Making a bee line for the prisoner cells, the party came across an armory that included 12 sets of red garments. On a hunch, the party took all 12 sets, each member donning one and taking the remainder fr the prisoners. It worked as the party made their way past the animated skeletons unmolested. Taking the cell guards by surprise, they were quickly subdued and imprisoned in the cells while the prisoners (two women and boy – Mirna Dendrar, daughter Nilsa Hallwinter, and son Nars) were escorted to the exit and set free. As a reward, Mirna told the party of an heirloom she had left hidden beneath a section of storage shelves in her family’s old home (a herb and alchemy shop) in Thundertree before they were driven out by the erupting Mount Hotenow 30 years ago.
After some more deliberation, the party decided on a strategy to pin the remaining Redbrands in their quarters so the party could ambush the wizard without distractions. After driving wedges into the guardroom doors, the party split with Klang and Taklaan going through the wizard’s front door and O’Dell and Goldtooth going through the wizard’s secret back door. Taklaan used a “seeing” spell with O’Dell so both teams could time their efforts to happen simultaneously.
The secret back door team of O’Dell and Goldtooth surprised the wizard Glassstaff and, realizing he fit the description of Iarno Albrek, subdued him before he could grab his staff. A pet rat (familiar?) was also quickly dispatched, just in case. The wizard was gagged and bound with fingers sufficiently damaged to prevent any spell casting.
A quick search of the wizards quarters and work room found some reagents (mercury, dragon bile, and powdered nightshade, each worth 25 gold), a partially completed invisibility potion, his glass staff (Staff of Defense), Erman’s(?) Journal about Wave Echo Cave and the mace Light Bringer which was lost with the mine, and various papers and correspondence. One of these was signed by the Black Spider which had commanded that the Redbrands capture or kill the party. Taklaan put the papers in his map case for safe keeping.
Also found 130 silver, 130 gold, a silk pouch, 5 carnelians (10 gold each), 2 peridots (15 gold each), 1 pearl (100 gold), a scroll of charm person, a scroll of fireball.
The party escorted the wizard back to town, presenting him to Sildar and Wester to sort out what to do with him. Sildar confirmed this was Iarno. We also informed them of the pinned Redbrands still under the manor and likely more at the Sleeping Giant tap house, if they wanted to round them up.
O’Dell told Sildar he would accept joining the Lord’s Alliance faction and was given the title “Cloak”.
Did anyone notice that Glassstaff did not have a spell book as the ruffians said he had? Maybe they thought the journal was a spell book?
Then it was time for a long, over night rest.