When last we left our intrepid heroes, they were pouring triumphantly from the mouth of the goblin cave.
Sildar had stayed behind, to slaughter the unarmed, surrendered goblins that had held him prisoner.
While they waited, Ro-Kan dove into the river and splashed around for a moment before emerging, a broad smile across his face. “This has been a most glorious day!” he beamed to grumpy Mun, thoughtful Zex, and filthy Rat.
“Did you see how I smashed that puny goblin with my hammer? Thor is most pleased.”
“Good for Thor,” said Mun.
“Yes. Most good,” the Goliath agreed.
Sildar emerged from the cave and returned the bloody dagger to Ro-Kan. The group then set off down the hill back to their cart. After a few miles, Mun began rummaging through his backpack and cursing.
“Damn, damn, damn, damn. Shit. Where the… mothercocking suckfucking…. No! No! Where is it…”
“’S’wrong wit’ you?” asked Rat.
“Nothing,” said Mun. “Nothing at all. I just need to double-back. Don’t worry. I’ll catch up with you in Phandalin.” And before anyone could respond, he had hiked his robes up to his knees and sprinted back the way they had come.
A while later, they arrived at the cart. They untied the oxen and Whiskey, and Zex, Ro-Kan, Rat, and Sildar set off towards Phandalin.
After an hour or so on the road, the winds started picking up and rain started to pitter-patter against the top of the wagon. And since it was growing dark anyway, they decided to set up camp. Finding a nice grove off the road, they pitched the tent and started a fire. Ro-Kan trapped a few squirrels that provided some sustenance.
When they awoke in the morning, Rat and Whiskey were gone. Zex spotted a note, crudely scrawled in mud on the side of the tent: “FORGOT BROTHER’S WEDDING. MEET YOU IN
FANDA PHA FANDILLIN TOWN IN A FEW DAYS.”
“I suppose we’ll see him in a few days,” said Zex.
Along the way to Phandalin, Zex has relayed the information that he got from Sildar in the cave to Ro-Kan, and continued questioning Sildar about the Black Spider, Wave Echo Cave, and everything else he had learned until Sildar begged him to stop. “I’ve already told you everything, a dozen times over. You’ll have to ask other people if you want more information! Now, here we are… Phandalin! A town on the rise.”
Phandalin was, to all appearances, NOT a town on the rise. It consisted of a few homes, a handful of scattered businesses, and somewhere around 50 residents. As they rolled through town on their way to the Provisioner’s, they passed by a tavern called ‘The Sleeping Giant’.
“Yes, a tavern! Let us inside to properly celebrate our glorious victory over Klarg and his goblin scum!” said Ro-Kan.
“I am quite thirsty,” agreed Zex. And so they left the cart in the care of Sildar and started up the steps of ‘The Sleeping Giant’.
“Look at the little puppies!” came a voice out of a sack of flesh wrapped in a red cloak sitting perched atop an empty ale barrel. The redcloaked man spat at Ro-Kan’s feet.
“You got a problem, little puppy?” cackled one of the redcloaked man’s equally repugnant and equally redcloaked friends. There were four of them.
Ro-Kan attempted to walk past the ruffians, as they were not worthy of his attention. But as he did so, the leader of the group threw out an arm to block his way.
“Where you think you’re goin’?”
“I am going into this tavern for a drink,” replied Ro-Kan. And you and your little friends can’t stop me was the unspoken end of that thought that hung in the air for a brief moment before the red-cloaked man spoke again.
“No you ain’t. You want a drink? Go across town.”
Ro-Kan was taken back by the man’s willingness to threaten him, but deemed it unfair to simply crush the man’s skull, and so decided to teach him a lesson about the unpredictability of the Tempest. Ro-Kan kicked the barrel the mat sat on, cracking the wood, and sending the red-cloaked man into the barrel, ass-first. His head and feet stuck out the top of the barrel comically.
Satisfied that he had shown the ruffians that they should consider threatening someone smaller and less in Thor’s favor, Ro-Kan once again attempted to enter the tavern. After taking only a single step, however, he felt a sword bounce off his armor, and then slash back into his arm. As Thor was strongly with him after his victory at the cave, Thor made his displeasure at the ruffian attacking Ro-Kan known by sending lightning leaping down the man’s blade and up his arm. The smell of ozone filled the air as the red-cloaked nogoodnik staggered back.
Zex drew his twin handaxes and Sildar simply shrank back into the cart. An odd-looking passerby with tattered black trousers and piercing green eyes spotted this display of raw elemental power and stepped in to take a closer look. Sildar drew a longsword he had scavenged from the goblin cave and demanded the stranger stand down. The stranger looked at Sildar and asked “Why aren’t you helping your friends. They look in trouble.”
Another ruffian closed on Ro-Kan and slashed at him twice. Again, the first strike was turned aside by the Goliath’s armor, but the second stroke was true. Fighting as he was from two steps higher than Ro-Kan, this red-cloaked jerk was able to slash the Goliath’s throat, a target traditionally out of the reach of an average sized-human with a shortsword. Blood sprayed from Ro-Kan’s throat, but the well-known stone endurance of his race closed the wound almost immediately. Again, Thor signalled his displeasure at this strike at his disciple by arcing lightning down the aggressor’s sword-arm.
This was not enough to deter them, and now they started to go after Zex. Slash-slash with a shortsword was answered by a slash-slash from the Dwarf’s twin handaxes.
Ro-Kan was enraged that these puny humans had drawn weapons on him. They started a fight they were too cowardly to finish. Ro-Kan lifted the barrel containing their leader and hurled it toward the one who slashed his throat. The throatslasher rolled out of the way of the barrel, which smashed against the street, spilling the instigator out onto the cobbles.
“I am Ro-Kan Ogalakanu, the Stormcaller! Defeater of the Bugbear Klarg! Crusher of—”
One of the ruffians stepped in and double-slashed at Ro-Kan. One of the blades hit his femoral artery, and Ro-Kan immediately lost consciousness as blood dumped out of his leg. However, this outraged Thor, who blasted Ro-Kan’s attacker with a mighty bolt of lightning. The ruffian was launched backward by the crackling energy and lay twitching on the ground, as the pool of blood from Ro-Kan’s leg grew larger.
Zex uttered a short prayer of healing, and the flow of blood instantly stopped as Ro-Kan glowed with soft white light. Zex glowed as well, as he split the healing power of the spell between them both.
The red-cloak leader got to his feet, stepped in and thrust his sword so deep into Zex’s back that it came out the front. The Dwarf collapsed. Just as the red-cloaked men were about to celebrate, they saw Ro-Kan stagger to his feet. But how? Wasn’t he dead?
Just then, a strange man with green eyes stepped out from behind the cart in the road and blasted a strange crackling burst of green energy from his eyes. The beam exploded against the cobblestones between one of the red-cloaks and Zex, discouraging them from moving closer to the Dwarf.
“Let’s get out of here, we should tell Glass-Staff about this!” said one of the men, and at that the three remaining ruffians ran away.
Ro-Kan saw that Zex was badly injured, and so called upon Thor to lift the Dwarf back into fighting form, that he might go forth and bring the righteous fury of the Storm’s destructive wrath to those who deserve to know fear. Thor obliged.
Zex lurched upwards out his unconsciousness, swinging his axes, stopping inches from burying them into Ro-Kan’s skull.
“Thank you,” he said.
“The cowards ran away,” said Ro-Kan.
Zex sat up “I know these men. They call themselves the Redbrand. They are a group of thieves, kidnappers, murderers, slavers, and rapists. They bring fear, sadness, and death wherever they go. It would be a glorious pursuit to destroy them.”
Ro-Kan turned to the strange man who still stood by the cart. “You there, green-eyed human! You stepped forward in courage when no one else would. Come join us for a drink.”
“I’d love a drink,” said the human.
“They’re on him,” said Ro-Kan, pointing at the bulging purse attached to the belt of the still-twitching red-cloak Thor saw fit to electrocute.
To say “The Sleeping Giant” is a rough bar is an understatement. The thieves, kidnappers, murderers, slavers, and rapists that Zex had just described, they ran this bar. This was a bar where the scum of the Realms could go to let their hair down and really be themselves.
The door burst open and everyone turned to look. First through was a Dwarf, blood still dripping from the handaxes tucked into his belt. Second to enter was a Human with bright green eyes and a heavy crossbow strapped to his back. Behind them came a Goliath, who had to stoop to get through the doorway. He had an enormous two-handed Maul across his back, and in his hand he held a dying red-cloaked man. The trio approached the bar, and Ro-Kan threw the unconscious body onto the bar itself, as nonchalantly as if he were dropping a bit of coin.
“Three pitchers,” he said to the barmaid.
Across the room, a table of Redbrand were glaring at the three of them. Giving them the stink-eye. There was one Redbrand at the table that was bit older than the others, maybe appearing to have a bit of authority. His cloak was nicer than his compatriots’ certainly. Ro-Kan pulled a bit of coin from the dead man’s purse to pay for their pitchers, and ordered another one to be sent to the older Redbrand.
When the barmaid brought it over to him, he was confused. The whole table was. The whole bar. Why would this group come into this bar flaunting that they had killed a Redbrand, and then buy them a drink?
Zex took his pitcher and walked over to the table. He picked up the pitcher they had just sent over and smashed both of them into the sides of the old Redbrand’s head. The man crumpled to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut. The six other Redbrand men at the table lunged for the Dwarf, but before they could grab him the door burst open again.
Sildar walked in with a group of other men. “Ho there! The town elders wish to speak with you.”
Ro-Kan finished his pitcher and smashed it down on the skull of the dead Redbrand sprawled across the bar. Zex extricated himself from the men at the table and marched out. Ro-Kan and the green-eyed man followed.
The Stonehill Inn was a stark contrast to The Sleeping Giant. Warm, cozy, comfortable. The group sat drinking pitcher after pitcher and conversing with the town fathers.
They had heard about the fight, and were quick to hire our heroes to eliminate the Redbrand menace. “As long as I get to kill some Redbrand,” said Zex.
Also, there’s some Orcs that need dealing with. And there’s a Well north of town with some undead around…
The party convinced the Town Master to pack up his family and leave town until the Redbrand are dealt with, which he was more than happy to do. Ro-Kan himself was astonished that this man was the Town Master. “Why are you in charge? You’re so weak and stupid, and you’ve allowed the Redbrand to run roughshod over the people of your town.”
When he packed up and left, the party took over his home at the center of town, with Ro-Kan taking up residence in the top of the bell-tower, so he could be closer to the sky. This also doubled as giving him a perfect view of the abandoned manor-house on the edge of town which is known to be the Redbrand’s base of operations..
At this point, the green-eyed Warlock introduced himself as Turin Gull, a Sailor who was lost at sea and saw things that Man Was Not Meant To See. He has since been traveling from mining town to mining town searching for the visions he sees in his dreams.
When the Town Master left town, Turin went after him, just to make sure he really left, while Zex and Ro-Kan took the cart to the Provisioner, to collect their payment and maybe gain some intel.
Turin observed the Town Master have a secret meeting with Sildar on the edge of town before leaving, he then ran across the street to join up with the others. As he pushed open the door, he heard the Provisioner say “That’s too bad about Gundren. He’s a good fellow. I hope nothing too bad happened to him. You know, there’s a campsite not far from here with a few more Rockseekers. Maybe they know something? Or maybe you could go talk to the Halfling family on the edge of town. I heard they might have seen a thing or two.”
Cut to: Halfling home.
Ro-Kan is sitting on a crate outside the house, eating stew from a pot. Turin is inside, stooped over, and Zex moves with ease through the Halfling-sized domicile. The Halfling lady is a widow raising a young boy who wants to be an adventurer. His father was killed by the Redbrand and so he has taken to spying on them. The boy, Karp, claims to have discovered a secret entrance to their hideout, and agrees to show them the way. Ro-Kan, pleased by the young boy’s adventurous spirit invites him to come stay with them for a few days, to see how adventurers really prepare for a battle.
The mother informs the group about the Druid Rydoth who runs a Temple nearby.
Cut to: Town Master’s Home – Belltower
After three hours of watching the Redbrand hideout, it becomes clear that they ONLY use the secret entrance in the wilderness for their comings and goings and ignore the manor entirely.
Cut to: The Wilderness, outside of town
“This is the spot!” said Karp, the young Halfling boy, excitedly. “They come in and out through that opening there!”
Turin pulled the boy aside. “If anything happens, if there’s any trouble at all, you run and you hide. You got that?”
“Yes, sir…” said Karp.
“Of course he gets it, Gull. The boy is a natural adventurer. Here, Karp, take this dagger. Treat it well, and someday you may use it to protect your family.”
The boy was thrilled to have been given a real dagger by a real adventurer. “Wow!”
“Now, let’s find a place to watch the entrance,” Gull suggested.
Cut to: The WIlderness, several hours later
Our heroes, and young Karp were hidden in the brush. They had been there for most of the day and were watching the traffic come and go in and out of the cave mouth. They had a good idea of the flow of traffic and so decided to head back to town to get ready.
Cut to: The Provisioner
Our heroes enter and purchase several items, including Healing Potions, a crowbar, some oil, and several hunting traps.
Ro-Kan finally opened the small chest he had taken from Klarg and found two more healing potions within, along with a jade statuette of a frog with golden eyes.
Cut to: The Wilderness, the next day
“They’re coming,” says Karp, running up the path. “Two Redbrand, maybe three minutes away!”
At that signal, Ro-Kan and Turin, both well-skilled at setting traps set up the hunting traps they bought in town and cover them with fallen leaves. Just as they return to Zex and Karp in the hiding place, two torches become visible through the trees.
Two Redbrand approach, laughing and joking with each other about some nonsense or other until—
—both hunting traps snap closed simultaneously on each Redbrand’s leg.
As they begin to scream in shock, pain, and fear, Ro-Kan charges in swinging his Maul and turns one of the men’s heads into a distant memory. He says to the second Redbrand “Stop screaming or your head is next!”
Turin steps forward and his eyes emit a small trail of green smoke… if you weren’t looking closely, you would miss it. At that instant, the Redbrand’s screams turn to whimpers, as he begins to clutch at the sides of his skull, as though trying to release something from within his own mind. He “runs” away from Turin, awkwardly clomping about ten feet from where he started, the farthest the chain on the hunting trap will allow him to move. He then drops to one knee and tries to pry the trap open. Zex throws a handaxe, burying it into the man’s shoulder, ruining his attempts to force the trap open. Just as he begins to scream again, Ro-Kan steps in behind him, clamps a hand over his mouth, and lifts him high into the air.
“Are you done?”
“MMMmmfh! Mmfmmmfmfmmmm mmfhfhfm! MMmmfh! MMf! Mmf! MmfmfmMMMfmfm!…. Mmf.”
Zex walked over to the man being held aloft by the Goliath, reached up, and pulled his axe out of his body, twisting the blade slightly, to inflict a bit more pain onto the defiant prisoner.
Turin locked his otherworldly eyes on the man and calmly told him that if he wanted to keep all of his limbs attached to his torso that he would tell us everything he knew about the tunnel, the lair within, his leaders, the Redbrand, security of the lair, how he gets paid, how they recruit new members, Glass-Staff, and how they picked Phandalin.
The man promptly shat himself, and then answered all of the Warlock’s questions. The tunnel led to the lair, which is guarded by an “eye monster”. There are bugbears inside. And skeletons. As well as prisoners and slaves. Glass-Staff is a human wizard who carries a glass staff.
When it became clear that he had no more information to offer, Zex split his skull open with an axe.
At that point, the party agreed they might be best suited by waiting for Mun and Rat to rejoin them before pressing into the cave…