We left off last time with our stalwart band just finishing the cleansing of the ruined manor which included:
1. leaping over (well, attempting to) kobolds with pointy sticks
2. dodging (ok, almost) gigantic boulders
3. sidestepping a makeshift sludge-drenched stone suspended from the ceiling (tether-ball style)
4. and ultimately the vanquishing of a young white dragon, known as Szartharrax.
Upon returning to Fallcrest, the party returned the severed ear of each felled kobold (hey! they were worth 10 gp each!), the bone-mask worn by the kobold leader and the dragon head to the Lord Warden of Fallcrest. Also, too, was the reveal of the letter found with Szartharrax mentioning a goblin leader known as "IronTooth" and his attempt at creating alliances with local evil forces. The Lord Warden had not heard of "Iron Tooth" - they seemed worried, but after paying us, simply went on with their business. While we moped about town cursing the fool-hardy lack of defense on the town of Fallcrest, we refurbished our supplies.
Word of our victory spread across town. Whispers and tales of our recent victory in the local taverns and shops spread quickly. Eventually, Sham and Syrus heard our group being referred to as "the five" and eventually, "Fallcrest's Five". We've decided to wrap arms about each others' shoulders with heads leaned in, 'huddle style' before battle. The pre-battle chant of 'Fallcrest Five!' will be punctuated with a unified pumping of our fists into the air... o.k. maybe not. But the name stuck with us and word has spread that the 'Fallcrest Five' are protecting the citizens or some such nonsense.
Meanwhile, Egon, our paladin mumbled something about needing a respite and headed off to his temple. Much to our surprise, he returned in new garb (more or less a large, shabby looking sheet) and an extremely macabre and eerily expressionless white mime mask.
The party stared at length and wasn't sure that this apparition before them was actually Egon at all. After some frantic gesturing at his gear and some vaguely erotic charades, it was determined that this was, indeed, Egon.
Now, all of this could have been simply deduced with him stating the fact, but there was a catch. He had taken a vow of silence and was now 'mute'. He scratched into the dirt a shorthand version of this current predicament and that he would not speak for an undisclosed amount of time. There was much head-scratching all around and even Xystus swore a little. Sham mocked him profusely and starting dancing and posing like the various 'mime' actors seen in the larger villages and hamlets across the land. After Egon, now known as "Mordred" (yes, apparently he changed his name too) stepped threateningly in Sham's direction, Sham decided to find sport elsewhere and found himself busy with a priestess that was watching all of this quizically.
The young priestess, Marla, had heard of 'Fallcrest Five's' recent success and was interested in hiring the adventurers to investigate the possibility of 'occult activity'. Apparently, Marla was studying cults and required more information to complete her priesthood certification or some such religious paperwork. She informed that she would pay the party 250 gold pieces to travel to Winterhaven and eliminate any such 'death cult'. Of course, we were to bring back proof of our success as well.
Winterhaven was a day's journey down King's Road.
"The wind is cool and comfortable. The road beneath your feet is level. An occasional ancient cobblestone peeks through the dirt road, indicating decades of neglect. You notice footprints leading up and down the road, many of which were made by small, clawed feet.
Small creatures hiding behind the rocks spring into view and begin to move toward you. With a shriek, the small humanoids attack. Scaled and rust-colored, they have reptilian heads and tails."
Marching Order on King's Road
Prior to arriving in Winterhaven, we were behest by a shabby Kobold ambush.
Ambush!We dispersed into our normal attack formation, with Egon, sorry! - with 'Dread' taking the lead and rushing into a Kobold swarm. Syrus and Sham hung back and picked off kobolds with arrow-death. Xystus let them have wizard-hellfire and Singbeard entered the fray, cheering is on the whole way, with Dread as well.
Swarmed!The skirmish was over quickly and we couldn't help but think there was some, larger, more evil threat waiting to crush us at any moment. However, it never came and we continued to finish off the mortally wounded kobold skirmishers - with Egon, damnit!, with Dread helping a cornered Sham.
Dread deals out 'Paladin-Mime' punishment.
The Five continued on their way, giddy with the success of yet another kobold cleansing. Speaking of 'cleansing', Xystus began complaining of the Syrus's 'gamey' smell and recommended an immediate need for personal hygiene upon entering the town. This would require the most ellaborate and expensive Inn rooms that Winterhaven had to offer. We chose to stay at Wrafton's Inn which, to Xystus's pleasure, offered private 'noble level' rooms.
The party descended upon the food offered at the Inn like pack of vultures - and speaking of birds, Xystus returned to the dining hall with one, extremely large and boisterous Raven. It perched precarilously on his shoulder and seemed to mock Dread continuously through the meal with it's raucous cackling and phrases of, 'Look at the Mime! Squak! Look at the Mime!' It was an exercise in awkwardness watching the vow-silent Paladin attempt to feed himself without removing the mask entirely. Sham tried to peek behind the mask, wondering if some strange disfigurement had occurred at the temple. Sham silently plotted to have the mask 'accidentally' removed during the heat of some future battle.
Each member of the party filtered into the local crowd, trying to gleen some tidbit of information that would drive them towards the investigation of the possible 'death cult' in the area. These attempts ranged from Singbeard trying to inebriate a local farmer to Syrus asking a silent and sullen looking female elven ranger type if she, "had heard of any death-cult activity". After giving him an icy-cold look, sticking her nose up at the brusque and un-elfen-like nature, left the table, walked up the stairs and presumably went to her room. When Xystus later asked what Syrus said to irritate her so, Syrus shrugged and said, "It must have been my unwashed-elfness."
Sam had better luck when Lord Padraig entered the tavern. After Lord Padraig greeted the locals and vice versa, Sham approach the man, cow-towing in excess. Apparently the Lord wasn't used to such excessive praise and promptly hired Sham and the Five to investigate a local keep that apparently was being used by the Kobolds as a base of operations. He added that he would pay us handsomely to cleanse the area of Kobolds, making the surrounding area of Winterhaven safe again.
The Five promptly left and headed north towards the area that Lord Padraig had indicated on a map. While on the road, Sham detected movement and spotted a group of kobolds that were apparently prepared for another ambush. He alerted the group and managed to stealthily move through the trees until he was nearly ten feet away from a Kobold Warlock and his minions. Sham threw a perfect shot of flash powder and blinded the spellcaster and group of kobolds while the party rushed in to attack.
Meanwhile, Sham retreated back into the forest and ran around to where Singbeard and Xystus were flanking. Dread engaged with the spellcaster and kobolds making fairly quick work of the minions.
Xystus, Syrus and Singbeard then were ambushed by yet another group laying in the trees and weeds. A furious exchange of arrows, spellfire and Singbeard's hammer lay the kobolds in pieces. Meanwhile, Sham ran back to the road and targeted the now visible spellcaster. He waited for a shot while Dread fought him hand to hand.
Sham fires bolt after bolt into the Kobold spellcaster while Dread finished him off.Singbeard, Syrus and Xystus finished off the last of the Kobolds on the left flank while Sham then regrouped with the party. It was determined that the Kobold shaman's group were watchers for the outskirts of the keep that lay just beyond the woods. The party decided to rest and regroup or the next and most likely, deadlier encounter...