(I don’t own any of what you’re about to read, but if you’d like to read the saga from the party’s first adventure, click here.)
The party made their way across the plains, northeast toward the Triboar Trail. Steward and Y’inyahin had been returned from the enigmatic Fade, slipping into step with their comrades as though they had always been there. Y’inyahin began to heal the wounds of Ben and Vigo from a battle she was absent for by remembered being in.
The party arrived at the Triboar Trail as night approached so they decided to make camp. Ben took first watch having nothing to report to Y’inyahin who took the second. Y’inyahin, however, heard sounds of battle coming from the distance in the southeast. She shared this with Vigo, who had next watch.
Listening where directed, Vigo didn’t hear what Y’inyahin was talking about. “Umm, no. There’s nothing there.”
During Kir’thiri’s watch, the gnome noticed only the merest hint of smoke coming from the southeast, as though a large fire had burned out or been tended to, sharing her discovery with the group.
“I heard sounds of battle last night,” Y’inyahin said.
“Why didn’t you wake us?” Kir’thiri demanded.
“I told Vigo!” Y’inyahin said, hurt.
“I didn’t hear anything.” Vigo shrugged. Then added, for some reason, ” But I saw the fire, too.”
Finishing their bickering, they helped gather up camp and the party made their way further down the trail. Taking point, Kir’thiri’s practiced eyes shifted back and forth across the road as her keen ears listened for any alarming sounds. The task began to grow difficult over the din of Vigo’s loud declarations, Ben’s telling him to shut up, all while Y’inyahin sang various “I’m having an adventure with my friends and we’re walking!” songs.
Not too long down the trail they came across a dark-haired elf maiden who, disheveled and seemingly worse for wear, came toward their road and met them from the south.
“I am Willow,” she explained. She shared that she had been staying at the Alderleaf Farm when it was set upon by Redbrands looking for an adventuring group that had murdered some of their numbers. While Qelline and her son, Carp, were okay, the farmer had suggested that Willow run.
Eyeing the ground sheepishly, the party continued to listen to Willow’s tale.
The Redbrands had attacked the farmhouse in their search for the party and then set the fire that was evidenced by the smoke Kir’thiri had seen.
“Well, we’re off now to find a banshee if you’d like to come.” Y’inyahin offered.
Kir’thiri admitted something similar, but hers had a tone that suggested: “We’re going to be dealing with a banshee soon if you’d like to run away from us.”
Willow, seeing the silver lining in having safety in numbers — even numbers such as these — joined the party.
Days of walking the trail followed uneventfully, until the second night of travel. Everyone was asleep except Y’inyahin and Ben who kept watch. Just as the smoke from their fire got into Ben’s eyes, Y’inyahin heard movement and saw three shapes coming toward them in the dark. She nudged Kir’thiri awake and pointed toward the shapes. Nodding, Kir’thiri woke Vigo as Y’inyahin approached to wake up Steward and Willow.
“Who are they?!” Vigo yelled, pointing at the shapes.
In response, the orcs attacked.
The scouting party of the Many Arrows tribe didn’t last long, even though Vigo, in his hurry, misfired an eldritch blast and then couldn’t land a stabby-stab into an orcs nethers; a still-sleepy Steward, quick as he was to run up on the orcs, was never able to land a punch or kick. Or how Y’inyahin charmed one of the orcs, befriending the foul creature, only to leave it to its whims. Which included it still trying to kill Willow. Willow, inexperienced as she was, managed to kill one of the orcs by herself, while Ben and Kir’thiri destroyed their chosen victims.
After a short rest until morning to prepare, the party then finished the journey to Conyberry to find Agatha the banshee.
In the wreckage of the old village, long ago destroyed by barbarians, the adventurers discussed tactics before going into Neverwinter Woods to find Agatha.
“Qelline Alderleaf warned I should never go into those woods. It’s dangerous.” Willow mentioned.
With a sigh, Kir’thiri said, “I’ll lead us in.”
Upon entering the woods the party quickly discovered what looked to be an old elvish hut, overgrown by vines and branches within a copse of trees. Vigo gave Y’inyahin the jeweled comb that Sister Garaele had given them to appease Agatha.
Y’inyahin entered the hut and immediately felt a shiver of dread as the room grew cold. A spectral wind began to take the form of a once-beautiful elf whose face twisted in a hateful expression.
“Agatha,” Y’inyahin began. “We have got to make a bargain.”
The banshee’s expression grew more fierce before, scowling, she began to turn away.
Changing tactics, Y’inyahin showed the comb. The banshee stopped and turned back toward the bard.
Sensing that Y’inyahin’s negotiation tactics angle wasn’t working, Vigo snatched the comb away from her with a plan to sweet talk the banshee himself. However, his attempt came out more like, “Hey lady, lookit!”
Taking the comb back and switching gears, Y’inyahin sweetened her voice and tried again, this time with success.
The banshee smiled in cold amusement, offering the answer to any one question put to her.
After some deliberation, and discovering that Qelline had shared the name of Reidoth the druid with Willow offering another angle to find Castle Cragmaw, the group decided to finish the quest put upon them to discover the location of Bowgentle’s spellbook.
Agatha shares that she traded the spellbook to a necromancer named Tsernoth more than a century ago and has no knowledge as to what became of it from there. She then disappeared.
And so began the trek back to Phandalin. After some much needed bonding and getting-to-know-you time on the road, the party decided to sneak into and around town until they knew where they stood with the Townmaster for their acting in self-defense against the crew of Redbrands who attacked them. They opted to return by way of the Alderleaf Farm.
Arriving in the wee hours of the morning to an already awake and working Qelline, the party learn the details of the Redbrands attack on the farm. Qelline’s western field was razed completely. The thugs had broken into her house, broken all of her furniture and kitchenwares, and attempted to poison her well by killing and throwing a dog into it. But the worst was that Carp, her once spirited and precocious little boy was now racked with trauma, hardly speaking and had taken to hiding.
Filled with rage, the party decided then that the Redbrands days were done.
Asking Qelline to see if Carp would share where he’d found a tunnel leading somewhere the Redbrands wanted hidden, the party began to formulate a plan. Vigo offered the farmer 24 gold pieces for her troubles, seeing how the entire event had inadvertently been caused by them. Refusing the money at first, Qelline finally accepted the kind gesture, tears in her eyes.
Hidden tunnel location in hand, the party made for it with murder in their hearts.
But . . .
It turned out that the tunnel led into a hidden cavern/basement of a large, dilapidated manor. Likely the Redbrands hideout, the party snuck in. Kir’thiri, in the lead down a single-file tunnel/hall, suddenly felt an inexplicable sense of being startled. She jumped, as though from a catch-yourself-before-you-fall dream. Too unnerved to continue, she backed the party out of the tunnel and back into the woods to reconsider things.
Which is where we leave them for now . . .