Of Strange Beginnings and Unexpected Adventures

Episode I - A Few Beers of Hope

Thunder peaks

Our story starts on a stormy winter’s night at the base of Thunder Peaks in the warm hovel of the The Gilded Lady Tavern, a rest stop for weary travellers traveling to and from Dalelands in the north, Cormyr in the south, and Sembia in the east.

As we step into the tavern from the blizzard, we see the owner of the rundown shack, Stephanie making ends meet. The hours pass by, and she is found to be quite taken at the handsome daredevil of a wizard, Sebastian, as he smooth talks his way to a couple more free drinks and well… is there more to say?

On the opposite end of the small dimly lit tavern is Paul, a travelling cleric of Pelor, he sits at a table quietly alone. He takes a breather from his long journey from his seasonal placement in the Sword Coast, an area heavily ravaged by the Spellplague.

A few tables opposite from him on the far right side of the tavern sits a half-elf paladin. Paul stares at him curiously. The paladin seems quite out of place. He nervously shifts around his chair gently sipping his beer, his fingers running up and down his cape and scabbard as if he was waiting for some impending doom to befall him. Perhaps it was the rowdy table next to him that was making him uncomfortable? Odd, his armor looked quite new and polished. He’s never seen paladins on the road so quite… clean.

As we turn around, we see a noisy dwarf quite content with himself. Jerry, drunk, his head on the table, but not quite enough to topple him down, babbles on by himself recounting all the battles and wars he partook as a footman in the goblin and orc wars of old, all of which are now a forgotten memory.

A gust of wind rushes in and two groups of men come in at the same time from the two entrances of the tavern. Curiously, they mill about by the doors, not one of them head to the bar for a drink.

Stephanie looks up and yells,

“What can I do ya for?”

At the front entrance, one of them looks up, and then quickly looks back into the small huddle of men.

“I get these weird types every now and then”

Douglas, the paladin, feels his breathing pick up. The three men across from him at another table seem to be harassing an unarmed woman, a religious acolyte.

“What should I do? What should I do? I was never trained for this.”

Douglas recounts his days at the monastic academy of Bahamut.

“Protect the weak, liberate the oppressed, and defend just order. I must do this upon my honor. Fear is for the weak minded.”

Douglas suddenly downs his beer, picks up his pride, and stands up awkwardly facing the accosting gentlemen.

“Hey, hands off the lady or you shall answer to me.”

“What’d you say?”

“Um. Nothing. never mind.”

“I’ll teach you a lesson disco pants for talking back to me.”

Doug soon finds himself surrounded by the men with no means of escape.

Meanwhile, Stephanie and Sebastian see the commotion.

“Ahh don’t mind them. This always happens in here, pretty soon they’ll knock themselves out. Tell me more about your magic wand there”

“Suuure, If you let ME buy you a drank girrrl”

Sebastian buys more drinks to share with Stephanie. Paul the cleric and Jerry the dwarf are quite amused by the fight between the paladin and the several thugs in the tavern. The acolyte is suddenly knocked out in the fight.

“Yarr, I’m gonna get me tha’ pretty girl in tha white dress ta’ take home”

Jerry, in his half drunken state walks towards the unconscious acolyte and sweeps her off her feet and tries to sneak out of the tavern with her.

“No! you leave the lady alone!”

Doug, in the middle of the fight, notices the dwarf making his way out the door, and Doug suddenly kicks the table adjacent from the dwarf , and in the shock, Jerry loses balance, and topples over throwing the poor unconscious acolyte across the room.

“Oi! You made me drop the pretty lady you dipwad! You’ll pay with my axe!

Sebastian and Stephanie roar with laughter as they see the fight happen from across the room. Paul continues to watch the awesome display of bravado.

Bloodied and his new and polished armor all dinged up, Doug cries out to the rest of the tavern,

“Help me! For Bahamut’s sake!”

His screams of help get drowned in the sea of beatdowns on the poor paladin. Everyone else in the tavern roars with laughter.

“I feel bad for the poor sucker, lets help him out, I’m already losing enough money on the broken glasses and that table he kicked down; after this, tell me more about those magic rocks you have in your pockets”

“Alriiiight, but nooot without that keg over there!”

Sebastian drags a keg of beer with him into the fight. Stephanie follows. Paul realizing the mess the paladin has made, casts a healing spell onto the poor knight.

Jerry stands up, and goes for the paladin, but is then surrounded by the thugs waiting by the doors.

“I’ll deal with you later dandy!”

The dwarf and the half-elf are seen fighting back to back.

Sebastian now completely out of his mind, chugs down half the keg of beer. In his drunken and frenzied state, he rushes into the brawl and yells out

“Scorching buuuurst!”

Everyone in the tavern yells,

“NOOOO!”

a ring of bright yellow flames erupts from Sebastian, everyone ducks, fireballs ricochet from the ceiling and walls knocking down furniture and breaking bottles of beer and spirits. Two unlucky thugs get hit by fireballs and are burnt to piles of ash.

In the confusion, Nicole a war wizard from the nearby capital city of Suzail, steps in the tavern hoping for a day’s rest on her journey towards Marsember to her recent posting as a customs officer. Seeing the ruckus inside, she is instantly amused by what she sees; a dwarf and half-elf in a corner fighting a band of thugs, the tavern barmaid and a wizard drinking and fending off the assailants, a cleric picking up the pieces, and an unconscious young lady.

Wait. An unconscious young lady?

Nicole’s eyes gleam with delight; unseen, she skirts her way towards the defenseless young lady. The lady soon wakes as Nicole helps her up to her feet.

“What happened?”

“you’re safe now. I got you out of that mess”

Nicole points towards the rest of the tavern as fists fly, swords clang, and fireballs explode around the walls.

“Lets get out of here before things get too dicey in here”

Nicole helps the acolyte up to her feet and walk her out the door, but not before snatching a couple beers from the bar.

As the dust settles, a pile of unconscious thugs lie in a heap in the middle of the room. Paul casts minor healing spells on the lightly wounded, Sebastian and Stephanie are seen at a table giggling together; they seem to be sobering up. Douglas, who hasn’t fared very well since the beginning of our story, is nursing his giant welts on his head from the blows he received from the thugs’ choice of weapon, wooden clubs.

“Oh dear god, my armour! I paid 100gp for this!”

“HAH! You paid too much for that load of turd” the dwarf retorts.

“Well, I’ll show you, I smite thee in the name of Bahamut!”

“Hey hey! Enough of that! I don’t want to be paying for anymore broken things in here, I don’t know how I’m gonna get the money to replace those doors and that window there”

“Maybe I can help”

Our unlikely fellowship turns towards the door. The acolyte and Nicole stand facing them.

“I am Gevarn, an acolyte of Chauntea—”

Douglas seizes the opportunity, but all too soon, and replies,

“Who were those men?”

“hired thugs—sent by the forces of evil to stop me on my mission”

“Where are you from?”

asks the dwarf.

“I come from a town called Winterhaven, at the summit of Thunder Peaks. The cleric I serve, Sister Linora, has learned that a cult of Shar has asserted itself in our town. She sent me to go find help, but I’m afraid I’m not well educated in the ways of the world, and those men must have tracked me to stop me from finding aid.”

“We shall help you”

replies Douglas.

“Who’s we? I’ve got other things to worry about other than anyone else’s problems, like my poor old tavern here”

“Buuurp~ I’m up for an adventure! Didn’t you tell me you wanted out of here? I still haven’t finished my magic wand story yet”

“In that case, I guess a small trip wouldn’t hurt. Promise it’s a long story?”

Sebastian smirks,

“Oh I promise. You’ll be entertained for a very long while”

An awkward silence fills the room. Paul rolls his eyes. He then suddenly speaks up.

“I guess I can help out, I’m not due into Neverwinter until Mid Winter anyways, it is my civic duty as a cleric of Pelor ”

Douglas then speaks

“you have my sword”

“and my mace”

says Paul

“and my axe!”

says Jerry

“and my long oak wand!”

says Sebastian

Both Stephanie and Sebastian laugh uncontrollably. Everyone rolls their eyes. The acolyte seems undeterred.

Gevarn then speaks,

“How about yourself Nicole? Will you help me?”

“Well, I do have to report to my posting in Marsember as is my duty as a War Wizard of Cormyr”

She pauses for a while in thought, then speaks again

“However, it is the middle of winter and the blizzard shows no signs of stopping, I could be lost for a while if you know what I mean”

Gevarn, gracefully smiles. She then speaks

“I thank you all for coming to my aid. Having seen how well you handled yourselves with those thugs, you are all surely the blessings of Chauntea. The lord of our town would surely reward you if you find this cult and eliminate it. You would also have the thanks of me, sister Linora, and the Great Mother if you would lend us your aid.”

And so in that dark night, in the quiet of a winter’s blizzard, beside the dying flames of the fireplace hearth in that tavern, another light of hope was lit in the ever darkening lands of Abeir-Toril.

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Episode II - A Suprise in the Bushes (part 1 of 2)

And so our heroes venture forth into Thunder Peaks through the East Way; a nearly forgotten pass through the mountains. For four days our heroes traversed the snow capped peaks, braving the cold bite of the northern winter winds.

At last, as the sun was setting, hidden in the crook of an unmarked valley, they see the small village in the horizon. Smoke trails from the several hearths in the village float up into the evening sky.

Well, ain’t tha a sight

piped the dwarf

It’s still too far away. The road will be dark soon, and there are unseen things that are watching us in these woods, I can feel it.

Our heroes turn around and see no one. Immediately, they draw their weapons. Douglas darts his eyes around.

hey hey! there’s no need for those, I’m on my way to Winterhaven too, I live just beyond that tower that you see over there.

They all look down and see a small gnome farmhand with a carcass of a small deer over his shoulders.

Tantam! My name is Lawrence Goodfoot, I help run the stables down in Winterhaven. Gevarn! glad you’ve come back in such a short amount of time, Sister Linora has been anxious to see you right away, she has some urgent news for you; she wont say what to me, but you should meet her at first light when we get there.

Gevarn replies,

Thank you Goodfoot, I shall see her first thing when we reach Winterhaven. For now, I suggest we set up camp here for the night; dark shadows have taken over the road since the cult of Shar presence has been felt in these valleys. We are safer if we stay put instead of risking it in the dark.

The group assented, started a fire, and set up a perimeter around and on a crest of a hill near the road. Not a star in the sky was seen that night, and everyone drifted into an uneasy sleep.

Morning came and they hastily packed their bags and started for the small village in the distance.

As the sun was at its highest, our heroes find themselves at the bottom of the steep valley and they see the village of just a few miles away beyond the trees. Smoke is seen in the distance billowing over the forest from the chimneys of the buildings in the village.

We’re almost there! My house is just over there near the stables!

Lawrence points at a small house barely seen, almost blocked by the stone tower jutting over the village.

Just as he said that, Douglas hears rustling beyond the tall grass near the side of the road.

What was that?

Bah! Tha’ ain’ nothin’ disco pants, prolly a rabbit er’ smal rodent. Theer tons of em in these parts

The dwarf kept walking undaunted. The rest of the party continued on, not minding Doug’s revelations.

Hmph. These guys better take me more seriously. I’m tired of them pushing me around like I’m nobody. I’ll show them. I am a real paladin.

Doug, at full walking pace, pushes through the party almost knocking over Sebastian with his keg in one arm and Stephanie in another. They see Doug far into the distance, around fifty paces away.

Whats his problem?

Paul shrugged. He was too busy enjoying the land before him. The rolling hills, the steep green valleys, the roadside brooks—

Hay you! Priest man! Go ova’ tha rock ova’ thar, and tell ous’ how clos’ we are to a nice muga’ ale

Jerry points at a boulder beside them around six feet high.

Paul nods, and quickly clambers up the boulder before him. As soon as he disappears over the boulder, the group jump back in surprise as they hear Paul shriek on the other side of the boulder.

Kobolds!

The group turns around and sees themselves surrounded by a band of kobolds holding spears and short swords, snarls are heard in the tall grass just after the treeline.

Meanwhile, already beyond the crest of the hill, oblivious to the sudden turn of events, Douglas meanders in the grass just below the hill.

Ha! A fat lot they are! They don’t have the knightly discipline paladins have to face what the world throws at them

Douglas spots a falcon near the bushes feeding off of the carrion of a dead field mouse.

A falcon! Just my luck! I can catch this and train it to scout for me just like how they taught me at the academy

In one swift movement, Douglas pounces on the falcon and grabs its with his bare hands, his left hand over its own eyes. The falcon squirms and nips at Douglas, but his grip remains firm.

There, there little buddy, you’re alright

Douglas gently strokes the falcon’s back calming him, whilst channeling incantations to Pelor to speed up the training process.

On the other side of the hill, a fierce battle rages on, Sebastian and Stephanie were now back to back defending the last dregs of ale in their keg, Jerry the dwarf and Paul the travelling cleric simultaneously hewing the brigands with a giant great axe and firing bursts of healing light respectively. Light on his feet and quick with his hands, Lawrence takes out a small dagger and quickly dispatches two kobolds careless to charge into him. Gevarn runs and hides behind a nearby boulder.

Doug! Git’ yer scrawny tin can ass ova’ here!

On the other side of the hill, oblivious to the screams and yelps of his party, Douglas sits on the grass holding his bird contemplating the magnificence of the wandering adventuring life.

This is what they’re missing. If they took this quest more seriously they miss the littlest things in life. The fresh air, the wind making the grass rustle like waves in a sea of green, the great blue sky. Why. when I was a baker, these were the only things that kept me from going crazy baking hundreds of loaves of bread each day—

And with that, he lay on his back on the grass looking up at the great blue sky wondering what more adventures his life would hold.

Meanwhile, as Doug lay on the grass, the party scattered themselves all over on the other side of the hill. Bursts of fireballs were seen shooting haphazardly across the road, a gnome was seen vaulting over a kobold giving it a quick thrust with his knife as he landed, clangs of metal upon metal were heard ringing across the valley, shouts and screams from both parties were loud enough that the birds from the trees flew away to escape the bloodshed.

Doug had finished his incantations, and sooner than he had finished his last unintelligible words, he had a falcon to do his every will.

Ha! Would you look at that, I bet no one has this sort of thing; lets test you out little guy and see why those other guys are taking so long.

With a flick of his wrist, he sends the falcon flying up overhead circling our band of adventurers fighting below. Squawks from falcon were heard below.

Paul looks up at the incessant squawking from the falcon.

What in the world—

The fighting stops between both parties and they all look at the sad looking bird. The kobolds scratch their heads in puzzlement. Groans and the rolling of eyes were seen all around Douglas’ party. Gevarn facepalms. The parties shrug and the fighting starts again.

As the last kobold is slain and chucked upon the heap of dead, they dust off their shoulders and continue on the road.

Took you guys long enough! I was just sitting here waiting for you guys to catch up

The group glares at Douglas as they passed him on the road one by one, the silence was deafening.

What did I do?

Now last in the line, Douglas hurries on to catch up with his party ahead of him; the noise of cheap clinking armor is heard down the road. As the sun was setting, our heroes find themselves entering the wooden arch of the front gate into the town of Winterhaven. Douglas’ falcon is seen circling the lone and dark tower of the small village as the last rays of light disappear over Thunder Peaks. Abeir-Toril is once again shrouded by the enveloping darkness.

End of Part 1 of 2

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Episode II - A Suprise in the Bushes (part 2 of 2)

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…

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