Into the thieves den
The second chapter in the grand adventure of a band of brave heroes. Accurately recounted by the renowned sage Belkas Silverquill.
Having defeated the bandits, our heroes gather in the remains of the tower to decide their next move. A quick search of the upper level of the tower reveals nothing other than a commanding view of the surrounding forest.
The hole in the ground level floor appears to be as a result if the staircase having collapsed, with a sturdy but well used rope being the only way down. Gol’kosh begins pulling the rope up, and a faint ringing sound can be heard from below. Gol’kosh continues, and finally the full length of rope is retrieved, with a quaint little bell tied on the end! How clever of the bandits.
The group then return to the remains of a wall near the statue, where an entranceway had been opened up by Silas. A strong but obviously old iron ladder leading down is set into the wall. Gol’kosh is first to climb down the ladder, followed by Silas and then the others. A short distance down, one of the rungs gives slightly underfoot, accompanied by a faint click. A spear shoots out of the wall aimed at Gol’kosh’s chest, but stops short. It appears that the mechanism is stuck. The spear trap is rendered safe by Silas and the party continues on down.
The ladder ends in a small room with a closed door at one end, which is firmly jammed. A deft examination of the door by Silas reveals no dangers and Gol’kosh is able to force it open. The next room is full of boxes and crates, but contains little of value. The door at the far end of the room is slightly ajar, and faint voices can be heard. Opening the door, Gol’kosh can faintly see several figues standing together talking in hushed voices. Bandits! They are in a large chamber, and their attention is focused in the opposite direction, with weapons at the ready.
With a blood chilling roar, Gol’Kosh charges the bandits, taking down two of them with a mighty swing of his axe. He is quickly beset by the remaining scoundrels and the fight is quickly joined by the others. But these foes are not as quick to die as their companions were, and the battle is soon joined by another mighty half orc – Steelclaw! With the last of the bandits slain, our heroes full attention turns to Steelclaw. With little regard for his many wounds, Gol’kosh charges at Steelclaw, but despite his battle rage, his wounds are grievous, and he is slain by the bandit leader. Unable to save their companion, the remaining heroes continue the battle and eventually slay their foe. It is only then that Arnisil realizes he might have been able to save Gol’kosh, but he hadn’t been close enough.
Silas surveys the chamber they are in. At the far end is a pile of stone rubble. This is presumably the remains of the towers staircase. Near where the battle was fought, Silas finds the fruit of the bandits labors – piles of stolen merchandise. But the size and weight of the items makes it too difficult to take. The heroes loot the bodies of the bandits, and Paradox takes the head of Steelclaw as proof of his death. Little discussion is needed to decide upon their next course of action. They must quickly return to town and seek aid for Gol’kosh, as he is beyond their ability to heal. With great effort, and sadness, they raise his body to the surface. Taking the bandits horses, they quickly head for town.
On their return to town, our heroes are shocked to see that Gustav has been injured, wounded in a skirmish. His shoulder is heavily bandaged. His guards are clearly on edge. Something of great consequence has occurred. Gustav quickly waves off their concerns for his injuries. They are minor, he assures them. They attempt to inform Gustav of the events at the ruins, including the slaying of Gol’kosh and Steelclaw. But Gustav appears preoccupied, and responds by telling them of the attack that took place just after they left town. It is not until Paradox drops the head of Steelclaw on his desk that Gustav begins to comprehend what has happened. Silas insists that is anything can be done to save Gol’kosh, it be done now.
Gustav leads them to the temple of St. Cuthbert, where his influence gains them an audience with the Abbot. At Gustav’s command, the Abbot retrieves a scroll and calls for assistance. Gol’kosh’s body is carried off to a chamber where a ritual of resurrection is performed. Only then does Gustav continue with his recounting of events.
The night after the heroes left town for the ruins, Gustav and his guards were attacked at Gustav’s estate. No description of the attackers could be given by anyone, other than three shadowy figures. The purpose of the attack, it would seem, was to steal a flaming short sword Gustav has had in his possession since the fall of the Temple of Elemental Evil. It was, in fact, a trophy of sorts, taken off a slain foe from the temple. Gustav now suspects the sword to be a holy relic of the temple. Indeed, he now recalls it had a strange symbol cast on the pommel.
Zert seen in town the day before with 2 companions, Gustav attacked by three unknown assailants the following night, and a flaming sword looted from the Temple of Elemental Evil 15 years ago stolen! Surely this is no coincidence. Gustav insists that the heroes make their way to Hommlet and inform Elmo of these events in person, as soon as they possibly can. He suggests they spend the remainder of the day preparing for travel, and insists they join him at his estate this evening for evening feast. He tells them that there is somebody he wants them to meet before they set off, and he will be at Gustav’s this evening.
Having spent the day in preparation for the upcoming journey, our band of heroes are looking forward to a hearty feast when they arrive at Gustavs estate early that evening… and they are not disappointed! All manner of dishes have been laid out for them, as well as the finest ales in town. The person Gustav wants them to meet turns out to be well known to them, only for different reasons. It is the old man, known as Spurt, from the tavern – the old man with the dog, whom he brings to the tavern to show off his new trick to the patrons, who soon find out that it is the same old dog with the same old trick! But this night, Spurt tells a tale from his youth, when he and another by the name of Hedrack were given the task of draining and clearing a swamp for the building of a keep. Hedrack was excited by the project and could barely contain himself, but to Spurt it didn’t make sense. Building a keep, out here! A keep of strong walls and deep dungeons – a keep that now stands in ruins. Gustav finishes the tale by reminding them that it has been 15 years since he was last there, and it was destroyed, the dungeons collapsed – nothing was left, but he concedes that he may have missed something…
As the night goes on, Gustav gives Silas two letters to deliver in Hommlet – one for a woman named Cynthia, the millers wife and another for Ostler Gundigoot, the proprietor of the Inn of the Welcome Wench.
The next morning the party sets off for Hommlet, arriving 4 days later after an uneventful journey. Silas insists the first order of business is to deliver the letter to Cynthia. The mill is easily found, and Silas goes on ahead of the group. Not a lot of work is going on at the mill, but the workers are nearby, sitting under a tree talking casually. Silas overhears a conversation they are having concerning an individual by the name of Sart, whom he presume to be a fellow worker, and Karlun – the miller? Whoever Karlun is, he has been away for three days, which is seen as unusual as he has never spent more than a day away. The workers seem to be doubting he will return. Of Cynthia, there is no mention.
Silas returns to the group and they make for the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Much to their surprise (and dismay) the bard Rethidore Halfmoon is performing for the patrons at the Inn – coincidence, misfortune, or something more sinister? A woman who introduces herself as Vesta welcomes them to the inn. When asked about Ostler, she informs them he is her father. When told the group have a letter for him, she snatches it from them and reads it. Infuriated, she storms off and confronts an old man, presumably Ostler. After a short discussion, Ostler is heard to say “Rubbish. Gustav’s credit is good in my inn!” He approaches the group and informs them they are welcome to stay for as long as they care to. They get to talking, and it is very obvious that Ostler enjoys whiling away the day telling tales of years gone by. When asked about Cynthia and Gustav, he tells a tale of years ago when the two were very close, but Cynthia chose to marry Karlun the miller. Eventually Ostler moves on, wishing them well, and Silas opens the letter to Cynthia. It is much as expected – a deeply person letter to a lost lover.
Determined to investigate the reason for the millers absence, our heroes return to the mill, this time approaching the house next to the mill, obviously the residence of the miller and his wife. They knock on the front door, but there is no answer. Paradox notices a bird in a nearby tree – a bird of metal! As he points this out to the rest of the group, they are all surprised when the birds head turns in their direction. Whilst pondering their next move, voices are heard from the mill. Looking over, the group see the mill workers standing off to one side, whilst a rather large male approaches the group, firmly announcing that the mill is closing for the day. Silas enquires after the miller and his wife and is bluntly told they are out of town. Silas calmly explains that he has an important letter for the millers wife. The stranger offers to take it and give it to her on her return, an offer which Silas refuses. The stranger shrugs and suggests they return in a few days. Gol’kosh takes a step forward, but a restraining hand from Silas prevents him from taking any further action.
The group return to the inn, by which time Elmo is there. They approach him and tell him of the events in Oakham and of Gustav. Therein follows lengthy discussion concerning the flaming short sword, Zert, and the Temple of Elemental Evil. Elmo goes on to talk about the Green Iron Gang, and the old settlement of Nulb, which is now a ghost town. Elmo agrees with Gustav’s suspicions, and further suggests that there may be some connection between the Green Iron Gang and the Temple. They continue talking until well after dark, at which point the group excuse themselves and leave the inn.
They return to the millers house, careful to avoid the gaze of the strange metal bird. Finding a window at the side of the house, Silas deftly slides it open. All can clearly see that the interior of the house has been ransacked. Dinky slips in through the window and casts a spell. He learns that the last person in the house was Toridan the half orc, and that was three days ago. Silas enters the house to search it, returning to the open window a short time later declaring that he found nothing of interest. With little else to go on, the group returns to the inn.
On returning to the inn, they are approached by the bard who enquires of them if they were at The Lost Prince inn at Oakham on the eve of his performance, just a few nights past? When they inform him that indeed they were, he appears to be overjoyed and asks if they have travelled all this way just to see him perform again? Does this fool truly believe that anyone would travel such a distance just to hear him sing? – a second time? Or is there more to this travelling minstrel than first meets the eye (and ears!). Is it simply coincidence that he should be here, at this very inn our heroes have been sent to, at a time of such strange happenings? Or something more sinister? Might this bard know something of these events? And what of the miller and his wife, what has become of them? And who is this Toridan? So many unanswered questions – but what sinister plots hide behind these questions, the answers to which may have deadly consequences!