We gathered up the remaining supplies in the Hobgoblin cave and found a couple of healing potions along the way as well as a very cool looking statuette, which the party members seemed to argue over the valuation of for an excessively long time.
Eventually the statuette made its way to Melancholy’s hands, Althea kept one of the healing potions, and Graver kept the other (as well as a few wooden teeth from the goblins). As for Avantador, he was just happy to be alive. Plus he realized a larger reward would be at the end of the adventure if they returned all the crates back to the Lionshield Coster in Phandalin.
So Avantador loaded up the crates into the carriage and our adventurers were now headed to Phandalin with a very grateful Sildar in tow. Sildar let the rest of the part in on the disappearance of Gundrun and how they were separated. Gundrun unfortunately would need to be rescued from a keep.
When our adventurers finally arrived in Phandalin things seemed just a bit off . . . both within the party and with the town. This is where the group split off into three different directions.
What’s the first rule of D&D? Don’t split the party. What did we do? We split the party.
Avantador unfortunately was stuck with the dirty work of returning the crates to the Lionshield folks. Everyone else split, and it was upon the most responsible 15-year-old dragonborn you’ve ever seen. He’s like a dad.
While crossing town from the local shop to the Lionshield establishment, it was pretty clear that there was a militant force that had pretty much over run the town, and they were strong-arming everyone in town for “taxes.” They were the "red cloaks."
Avantador did a great job of avoiding conflicts with these folks and made his way to his destination. While he almost had a run in with a very . . . um . . . not-so-bright workhand, things were righted quickly, and the fees were collected for a job well done. Avantador had money to split with the group!
Graver wandered around town and found what appeared to be a run-down, closed toy store. THAT, was incredibly interesting. I mean, he did consider himself to be the foremost tinker and toy maker. It was like a certain DM just planted this store in town for him. *cough cough*
The only problem here is that the toy store was directly across from a place called the Sleeping Giant Inn. The Sleeping Giant Inn was a Red Cloak dive and they were out in droves . . . like bees swarming the joint and . . . happily drinking ROOTBEERS. Right. Rootbeers. Wayyyy too many rootbeers.
Anyway, Graver started fiddling with the door knob on the run down toy store and was trying to essentially break into the place when a group of Red Cloaks across the road saw what he was up to and yelled across the street for him to knock it off. “HEY! Get out of there what are you doing?!”
Graver then went on a very long tale about how he was a toymaker and a magician and a gnome and here with his friends and on and on and on. He simply didn't have the foggiest that these were bad guys. After thoroughly convincing them that toys were cool, the Red Cloaks seemed fascinated and asked him to show them a few tricks. Graver then started a “show” of sorts by shooting cantrip spells into the air. It was going pretty well . . . and then a firebolt grazed the corner of the toy store and almost caught it on fire. “Whoa whoa whoa . . . you gotta be careful little guy. Stay away from that store in the future and be careful.”
Graver agreed and then went to meet up with Avantador at the designated meeting spot . . . the Stone Hill Inn, an inn with much less Red Cloak presence.
Althea and Melancholy’s adventure
The last thing on Althea and Melancholy’s minds was delivering crates to people in town. Nope. It was now time to EXPLORE, and so they headed down to a nice little spot in the south of town where there was a nice Apple Orchard.
There they met a nice man by the name of Daran Edermath. He was of course, an apple farmer. Before Althea and Melancholy could steal any more apples off of his trees, he invited them in to talk and offered them some nice apple cider.
Daran talked to them a long time and told them of his old exploits as an adventurer himself. Those days were over now, of course, and he was an upstanding part of the town! Unfortunately . . . yup, the Red Cloaks (you guessed it) had been taxing people unfairly and it was getting out of hand.
Eventually Althea and Melancholy thanked Daran and bid him farewell. It was time to meet back up with Graver and Avantador at the Stone Hill Inn.
Fast forward . . . THE PARTY IS BACK TOGETHER AGAIN!
Back at the Stone Hill Inn . . .
Eventually the Dungeon Master no longer had to redirect his attention to three different story lines and the gang was back together and sharing information about what they had discovered in town. It was pretty obvious the Red Cloaks were a big problem in Phandalin.
Meanwhile, Avantador had struck a deal with the proprietors of the Stone Hill Inn to play some music there for the night in exchange for lodging, and so he began to play, and you know what? The dice rolls told us all it was a pretty freaking amazing show. :)
In the midst of Avantador’s set *record scratch* enter Sister Garaele. It was obvious that Melancholy was instantly taken with Sister Garaele’s beauty right way, “YOU’RE PRETTY!” she barked. Oh, Melancholy . . . so awkwardly honest with your emotions.
Anyway, as fate would have it, Sister Garaele herself had a quest for a group of adventurers and asked them to come by her Temple in the morning. Melancholy, being completely taken with this person, insisted that this would be the FIRST thing that would happen the next morning. No if’s, no and’s, no buts.
After Avantador's set, everyone was pretty tired. Avantador went upstairs to go to bed. Althea decided to sleep out in the woods with her deer buddy. Melancholy hid in a corner of the bar and slept under a table (you can't make this stuff up).
Graver . . . Graver went outside and waited . . . and waited . . . and when the time was right, he did a triple backflip up the side of the building (seriously, this was an amazing acrobatics roll), jumped up to Avantador’s windowsill, slipped inside his room, and snuck into his closet. And went to sleep.
(click to enlarge)
(to be continued . . .)