Our heroes looked up at the dark ominous looking tower at the centre of the village. Not a light was to be seen emanating from its lone window up above. No lights were seen from any of the windows from any of the hovels in the village save the inn right in front of them. A cold wind from the east blew in from behind the party. Not a sound was heard in that dark town.
I feel a taint of evil has overtaken this town
Taint of evil ma’ ass! ye cant tell tha’ smell o’ death from yer own toe jam paladin boy!
Why I should smite you from that defilement! Why I ought’ to—
Gevarn quickly interrupts,
hush! now is not the time for small quarrels! the spies of Shar are all over this town, we must be careful with what we say. Lawrence, lead our friends to their quarters at Wrafton’s Inn, I shall quickly see Sister Linora and report to her what has passed. Friends! I shall send a messenger later this evening to summon you to our temple. For now, rest and keep your eyes peeled for anything suspicious.
And with that, Gevarn quickly disappears into the dark streets of Winterhaven.
As soon as our adventurers step into the inn, nothing is what it seems. Several grim-faced individuals are seated in silence at different tables scattered in the inn’s common room. Not one of them looks up at our new arrivals. The inn keeper, Salvana Wrafton approaches them from the common room.
Tantam my friends! it’s seldom we get visitors at our small town. When they built that highway from Arabel to Highmoon, there was no need for the mountain road into our town anymore; knowing that, business has been slow in our parts, but we still have relations with the rest of Cormyr. But now come! I tend to ramble along, and you all must be tired from your journey, I have spoken with Lawrence earlier with instructions from Gevarn, all has been prepared, and your rooms are upstairs.
Lawrence then starts,
I must go everyone, I have to tend to my house first and set everything in order. I’ll be back as soon as I have my own duties done.
As soon as he said that, our heroes decided to make themselves comfortable in the common room and hold a small meeting; they all take a small table in the corner of the room.
We should split up and ask for some information. I think it’s going to be a while until Gevarn gets back. This way, we’re on top of things. Let’s meet back here in an hour.
Everyone nods to Paul’s decision, and stands up and head their separate ways all over the town. Douglas decides to stay and question the patrons in the inn. Stephanie and Sebastian instead do the contrary and headed straight towards the inn’s bar.
Jerry the dwarf decides to head over to a curious looking shop near the center of town. Upon entering, the door, unnaturally heavy, shuts behind him. Looking around he sees a curious assortment of trinkets lining the shelves, dark unsettling items from lands beyond Cormyr. An odd shiver goes down the dwarf’s spine. The dwarf couldn’t understand this odd unsettling feeling he was getting. Something was not quite right in this shop, something—
Why hello there! I’m Bairwin. What can I help you with?
The dwarf jumps and turns around and sees a greasy old human man looking right at him through a shelf.
Hah! Don’t let those things scare you, those are things I’ve collected on my travels all around the world, but that is done and over with; I’ve decided to retire from my wandering ways. Winterhaven seemed like a nice quiet town to grow old in and teach the people about the world out there.
Oh, tha’ sems’ mighta fine. I do wish to retire somedei’ bu’ I still got some fight in me.
Right you are! Right you are! So what can I help you with dwarf?
Ah, jus’ some questions. Have ya seen anythin’ suspicious lately?
Err. Not that I know of… You see, I just moved into town not just a month ago, so I don’t know much about the goings on in town… hmmm, yes, yes.. quite right… well, I know what might interest you! Have a look at this gold chain from Marsember, top quality—
Has thar’ anyone else not from town that’s entered yer’ store?
Errr. No. just, just you… and some of the locals. Now this gold chain has these interlocking parts that when you pull this—
Ha’ you herd o’ the Cult o’ Shar? I hear strange things about them wanderin’ around at night wi’ tha’ locals—
Now who’s asking?!— I mean, no… Can’t say that I know of that, they’re all just silly tavern stories to keep the rabble and drunks from doing anything stupid outside after dark. Well, look at the time! I must get going—
Now wait! Hol’ don’ tha’ Bairwin—
And with that, the lanky human man hurries on over out the storefront’s door. A click is heard as the door closes behind the man. He disappears into the darkness of the night.
Hay! Ya’ fool! Ye locked me in! lemme’ out!
The dwarf bangs on the door, but to no avail. He then starts to whack at it with the butt of his axe and his foot, but the door doesn’t give. Puzzled, he swings at it with his axe with all his might, the door chips his axehead.
Tha’s odd. Wha’ kinda wooden door breaks ma’ axe? I know o’ no wood tha strong enough for dwarven axes…
He tries the glass windows, and to his surprise, they don’t break either no matter how hard he swings at the glass with his axe.
An enchanted shop! This place is nothin’ ordinary! Why would anyone enchant an ol’ supply shop? Blast! I gotta get out!
Jerry yells and howls inside that lone shop, but outside it is not but a whisper in the howling Mid-winter wind outside.
Meanwhile, Douglas the paladin approaches an old man, frail from age sitting alone at a table in the inn. Half a glass of dwarven ale sitting quite comfortably on his table in the candlelight.
Excuse me dear sir, might I ask you of the going’s on in this town? I hear the Cult of Shar has shown its presence in this town, and I’d like to ask where might I find—
Shhh! You fool! It’s careless to talk so loudly about things that you shouldn’t know! Especially a newcomer like yourself! Yes, I know, I saw you in that group of bumbling idiots coming in through those doors—
Now wait, see here old man! All I ask is for some common courtesy—
That is a luxury we don’t have here in Winterhaven as of this moment.
The old man looks around nervously, he then beckons Douglas closer to his ear with his frail hand.
Young man, if it is information you seek, you shall have it, but you must come with me to somewhere safer; where prying eyes and ears will be too far. Come. Meet me at the tower in the center of town. I shall go first and you shall follow after a few minutes have passed.
The old man stands up, finishes his last draughts of ale, and walks towards the door and into the darkness.
Lawrence stokes the hearth fire one last time inside his house. His small deer hanging neatly on a hook ready to be butchered in the morning. Out he goes into the crisp Winter air of Winterhaven.
Let’s see what everyone’s up to at Wrafton’s; I sure need some ale to warm me up a bit more.
Upon entering Wraftons, he curious elf catches his eye. In the distant corner of the room sits an elf all to her self. A quiver and bow rests just beside her within eye shot and arms reach. A travelling hunter perhaps? Lawrence in his friendly demeanor walks up to this newcomer.
Tantam! My name is Lawrence Goodfoot! What brings you to these parts?
The elf ignores the gnome. An awkward silence fills the gap between the two people.
So… have you been here long?
Again, silence from the enigmatic elf.
I see you’re a hunter. What might you be hunting around here? Do you know of any news outside of town lately?
Suddenly, the elf starts
I’m only a simple hunter. I live alone just beyond the wood. I don’t know much, and I don’t think you should be going around asking questions if you know what’s good for you.
She stands up, pushes the gnome out of her way and walks out of the inn.
Hey wait! Who are you?
The gnome looks out onto the dark street. Not a single trace of her is seen. Curiously, not even footsteps in the new snow on the ground. Lawrence deduces that the elf is keeping information hidden from him.
Nicole and Paul take the more direct route and ask around from the people milling about around the streets of town and have a bit more luck with information.
They find out that there has been attacks on the road by kobold brigands lately, unheard of in this small town, they believe it to be that the kobolds come from a far land and have set up a new lair in Thunder Peaks. The newest person in town is Bairwin, the shopkeeper, and the daily gossip is that Thair Coalstriker, the local smith is bitter over the success of Bairwin’s shop. Thair attributes Bairwin’s success over the purchases Bairwin made of shovels and mining tools at Thair’s forge.
Of cults, many of Winterhaven’s denizens laugh it off as more of a rumor for the drunks and small children to keep them off the streets at night. Others say Sister Linora of the Church of Chauntea is experiencing a drought of worshippers to her church and have resorted to spreading fear amongst the villagers to get them to come. They say she’s becoming old and her ways are now dismissed by the villagers. They also find an elf hunter who lives in the woods who might know more about the kobold attacks on the road, but she keeps to herself and is not inclined to speak to the Winterhaven villagers, and even more less to outsiders.
With nothing less than town gossip to work with, Paul and Nicole head back to Wrafton’s Inn to wait for the others.
Meanwhile, Doug meets the old man by the door of the tower. The old man quickly pulls him inside and closes the door.
My name is Valthrun young man, and I am the keeper of this tower and all the knowledge it contains. I know of you and your quest as Sister Gevarn has confided in me with these things. I shall help you with all that I can help you with.
What can you tell me of the Cult of Shar?
I cannot say exactly, but we felt their presence just a year ago around the lands of Winterhaven. A dark circle with a purple rim suddenly appeared before us up in the sky just above Keegan’s Keep one day, and disappeared after a few seconds. That’s when the kobold attacks started. We‘ve also heard reports of activity up at Keegan’s Keep, but no one dares ventures up there. We’ve always suspected goblins living up there, but they don’t harm us so there’s no sense of going up there to start anything. I don’t have much to tell you, but give me time, and I can search up more of the histories of the area in these books I have. These came from the keep a long time ago from its librarium just when it was abandoned. I can be more use to you at a later point if you give me the time.
Alright old man, I shall return when you have more to tell me. May Bahamut be with you.
Doug exits and heads for Wrafton’s Inn to tell his friends what has passed…