Wagon Races
Catching up

As the wagons speed along the rickety, barely-present path through the tall grass, Simon is tossed from side to side, trying to grasp the reigns and stop; the rain bounces off as they plough through.


Adrik runs into the long grass as everyone else chases the wagons. Encountering the sleeping, exposed body of one of the goblins that, mere moments earlier, had tried to kill him and his companions, Adrik took his quarterstaff in his hands and lifted it high, bringing it down hard like a club. The goblin's skull cracked beneath his strike, caving in on itself and rendering the goblin unrecognisable to his family.

Lorawyn chases after the wagons along with Nix, Kaila and Bennet, the latter emerging from the tall grass to join them on the road as they run. As she reaches in vain to grab the rear of the end wagon, Lorawyn stumbles and slows, the wagons getting further away. That tears it. She didn't come all this way to fail now!

Taking her steps in striding bounds now, Lorawyn clenches her hands into fists and calls upon her connection to the Feyweave once again. She sees her spell in her mind, a whorling vortex of flame spitting and spinning in front of her; her hands feel hot and her throat sticky. As she reels her head back and takes a two-footed jump high upwards at the end of a bound, she draws upon her heritage and spews forth the flames of a Red Dragon, the heat to bend steel blades and melt castle walls! Her Feyweave connection set, she quickly cups her hands around her mouth and wills the flame inward, forcing all the heat and light into a small space between her hands. Holding it there for a few seconds, as she begins her descent back down to the ground Lorawyn throws her hands forward, the tiny ball of her flame breath flying forth and as it strikes the ground, explodes concussively as a huge cussion of pressured air, her Control Flame cantrip having controlled all the heat energy and light and changed it into a kinetic force. Lorawyn flies through the air, higher and higher, until she lands with a thud on top of the front wagon, just in time to catch Darrin as he nearly stumbles from the roof.

The wagons are now further ahead than they were; the party at large cannot simply chase after them and catch up. The road turns slightly, so a shortcut through the tall grass could work in your favour…

Roll initiative (1d20 + Dexterixty bonus). What do you do?

Citadel Doth Loom
Not a grassy Gnoll

The first volley of spears was apparently just that, as a few brief glimpses of spearheads above the grassline show that whoever this is must be readying a second. The rain makes it impossible to concentrate, the shouts and whineys of people and draught animals drowning out any salient commands and warnings.

The wagons, for a brief moment, stop. Nix darts her eyes around, struggling to see anything. She looks up at Darrin as he stands upon a wagon, a sees his foot reflexively draw back into an almost dance-like pose. She's seen this before. Turning back to face the wall of grass before her, she launches forward with a determined grin and a hand in her pouch. As she passes Adrik, he stamps forward with his quarterstaff drawn, stepping this way and that, before deciding to dive toward the safety of the wagons and wait for an opening. His attention his briefly taken by a sudden burst of warm air that smells of sweet cinnamon; Zook's failed cantrip almost dances on the air harmlessly.

Kaila reaches into the wagon she was trudging beside, casts back her cloak and pulls out her glaive. As she draws the mighty polearm she strains to remember anything save how to use the weapon, the blood pumping through her veins and a resolution in her to end this. As she dashes around the wagon, she sees Nix disappear into the long grass. Chasing after her, Kaila sees a dark shape rustle ahead, just within her reach. As she keeps running, her eyes dart to her right where she can still see Nix and the four dark shapes near to her. As kaila turns to meet Nix, she thrusts her arm out to her side and lets momentum take the glaive the rest of the way, grabbing it inches from the end of the handle. Fully extended, she swings her arm as she turns, putting her whole body into the swing as she leaps slightly, giving her the last push she needs. Despite bone, despite armour, despite foliage and her worn blade, her efforts and training pay off as she feels the solid being before her blade buckle, hearing it tumble to the wet mud hard. Whatever it was, it's dead now. Direct hit, the glaive spitting flecks of blood through the air.

As Kaila dashes toward Nix and her dark entourage, Nix stops dead and stands bolt upright, sand in her hand and her face to the sky. Waiting. The dark shapes, unseen by the small Gnome, race around and seem to ready their spears. Kaila sees one of their faces through the swishing blades of grass: GOBLIN!

Darrin barely notices his body moving, an instinctive twitch of muscles that drags his leg back, his arm out and his hand open, as though reacting to catch something thrown. A fire swells up in his belly, a wash of rage that he only acknowledges once he realises that he's seen something in the grass; dark shapes, spearheads. With a thrust of his hand forward, Darrin sees the waves of heat emanating from his hand, the rain sizzling between his fingers. The heat pushes forward, out of his hand and into the howling winds. Darring can barely make out shapes in the air in front of him, like coiling serpents with the heads of dragons, hissing and searing their way through the air faster than he can track. They snake towards the creatures in the grass and unerringly strike three times into the closest one, dropping them to the ground and making an open crater in the grass around it as it squashes the blades down.

Nix was waiting for this! She knows they're here, and she could tell that this would happen. Her eyes follow the searing magic snakes to their target, quickly measures the wind speed in her head and closes her eyes. She takes a deep breath and seems to last a day, her mind reverting to the calculations, the memory excercises, the training. She recalls a memory of a restful sleep, lingers on it, and whispers her incantation to the sand in her palm as she lifts if to her lips. The rain dampens the sand, sticking it together in clumps. Nix feels this, and doesn't mind. She knows that the arcane doesn't care for nature's ways. As her lungs fill to the brim, she releases the memory with the last raspy whisper and then blows the sand hard into the wind. It blows away as easily as it would dry, and bursts out in all directions through the grass as if escaping an explosion. The sand flies on, ignoring the wind and the world around it. Nix then turns and runs, the whole event taking but a moment of concetration for her.

Kaila looks on as she sees Nix run out of the grass back towards the wagons, the dark shapes surrounding Nix dropping to the ground. First one, then two, then all four that she could see. She hears another thud, then another. More are dropping. Then Kaila feels a tingle, and her eyes begin to close… Atchoo she sneezes, rubbing a small amount of sand from her eyes. Kaila dashes back towards the caravan, stifling a yawn.

Bennet, on the other side of the road, can still feel something else in the grass with him. After stalking in a circle, it seems evident that they are both aware something else is in the grass, but neither knows what or exactly where…

Lorawyn sees Nix and Kaila rushing back towards the wagons and looks out over the fields of tall grass, taking stock of who is here. Bennet is still missing. Then she spots a shift in the grass to the right, and sees dark green skin and the flash of metal. Goblin! Chastising the cold under her breath, Lorawyn steps forward, feet digging slightly into the ground as she does so, and she pulls up her hood further to shield herself from the rain's distraction. The smell of nature fills her nostrils as she holds her hands out into the falling water, touching it and taking in how it feels. The cold. Lorawyn's reptilian eyes narrow, focusing in on the Goblin dozens of feet away, through the grass, something a mammal would never see. She speaks in her mind to the rain around her, and her hands become more damp, even soaking. As she calls inwardly to her connection to the Feyweave, nature bends its very will to her call. A druid, Lorawyn knows, usually has to provide the nature she wishes to commune with and enhance, but here, the water for her spell is all around. Instead of throwing water and working her magics through it, Lorawyn gets a flash of inspiration from the Feyweave itself. She knows this won't be how its done all the time, but the opportunity is here…

She bends down into a running stance, one leg back and both hands down on the ground, digging them into the mud. Silently, Lorawyn urges her will into the earth beneath her palms, causing a low rumble. She scrunches up her eyes and tries again. Another low rumble. She strains, forcing her power deep into the earth below and touching the Feyweave with her soul, making the low rumble shudder forward and accelerate at lightspeed towards the Goblin target. This is where Lorawyn's faith and service is rewarded by nature's might.

As her strength empowers her spell, Lorawyn's attentions take note of the wagons behind her pulling away at high speed. The spear attack must have spooked the horses and donkeys. Simon yells for help.

As the wagon train passes it by, the rain around the Goblin stops suddenly in mid air, and soars upwards at a great speed. The Goblin stops, perplexed. The water from the ground below bubbles up and flies upwards, defying gravity and collecting above. As the last few drops in the few feet of ground the Goblin is taking up rise up, the blob crashes downwards, turning to ice as it does. The rain follows it, turning to ice also and spreading out a man's height in all directions. The large chunk of ice, spear-shaped with the wind, lands straight on the Goblin, crushing its skull and crashing into its body. Bennet spots the larger spray of ice shards ready to come crashing down and somersaults backwards, narrowly avoiding what could have been some serious lacerations.

As the rain returns to its regular state, the party braces while silence falls over the area, save for the splash and patter on the mud, the wheezing gush of the wind, and the flailing yells of Simon struggling to control the animals as they drag him dozens of yards down the road.

Roll initiative (1d20 + Dex Bonus). What do you do?

Kaila is in the grass with five sleeping goblins and one dead goblin. Bennet is in the grass on the other side of the road with an ice-crushed corpse.

The Gnomes, bar Nix, are on the wagons, along with Darrin, who needs to make an Acrobatics check.

Nix, Adrik and Lorawyn can make Dexterity saving throws in snap-react and grab part of the wagons as they race by.

There are no active/awake enemies that you know of, but we're staying in initiative for the time being in case a Goblin wakes up.

Bennet, I apologise for taking the liberty of ruling your Dexterity saving throw an automatic pass rather than contacting you to roll for it. Given the time, and the fact that I placed the Goblin so close to you, it didn't feel sporting to have you get hurt by an ally's spell.

Citadel Looming continued
Hidden Dangers

The rain patters upon the wagons, dripping down and soaking into the soil. The mud churns up into a peat beneath the slow-moving wagon wheels as the wind billows your cloaks.

The tall grass undulates organically in waves under the strengthening air, seeming to push against your egress, bowing to and fro as if to guide you back the way you came.

Aside from the rain as it slaps the ground and the wind as it blows hard around you, all seems quiet. Bennet jumps down and slips between the blades of grass as though they weren't there, timing it perfectly with the wind. While most would see this as a supernatural talent for hiding, Bennet can feel the sweat of the effort, watching his environment for every opening, every vantage point, every movement to best take advantage. It's not long before the party lose track of him entirely.

Nix and Zook, having taken the time to fully explore the wagons, have a strong indication of the strengths of each vehicle and steed. The front wagon has a slightly loose wheel; should a high speed chase occur, there's a chance it could come off after a mile or so.

5 slow, agonising miles go by through the long grass. Bennet finds it squeeking from time to time as he pushes past, but minutely so; no-one but Bennet could notice. He struggles to see, though, through the wind, rain and immense grassland. A few marks here, warrens there, signs of animal life. Then a splinter… it's out of place. There are no trees for miles. A few more steps and another out-of-place find: a metal pin. Wagon pieces! This must be where Simon's last caravan was ambushed. As he steps closer, Bennet stifles a bristle, eyes darting as he holds his breath. There's something nearby. Eerily close. Bennet can feel the faint warmth and smell the wet hide of something else in the grass with him. But where?

Lorawyn and Darrin strain their eyes against the harsh rain, looking for any sign of friend or foe, to no avail. To the west, an earthy mound begins its steady, slow rise in the distance. The Citadel!

The creak of wood has become a constant companion these past hours, along with the thick smell of countryside and rain. Lorawyn visibly chaffs against the wet, looking around to find something, anything to take her mind off it. As she turns to look to the left of the party caravan, the rain looks even worse. It's flying sideways, and looks to even be fighting the wind to head straight for her. Just her luck. The rain begins to get bigger as it flies, taking on a more metallic sheen… SPEARS!

As a dozen or so spears strike the wagon beams with a "shunk", one of the grazes by Lorawyn, another goes by Simon as he ducks, and a last one flies true to Kaila, but her instincts kick in and she bucks it away with a reflexive elbow strike. The barrage leaves everyone shaken slightly, but no blood was drawn. Lorwayn takes 4 damage, Kaila takes 3.

Roll initiative (1d20 + Dex bonus). What do you do?

All ranged attacks are at disadvantage due to the wind and rain. There are currently no visible enemies, although you can divine their locations; this also imposes disadvantage. To spot an enemy, you need to succeed at a Perception check, also at disadvantage due to the wind and rain, and the DC is 14.

The wagons are driving along a beaten path through the grass, so the road ahead is clear. Only the sides of the road have tall grass.

Citadel Looming
The Grassy Knoll

After the sharing of tales, and a hearty feast of bread, fish and wine, it turns to afternoon. Simon stands, contented and well at ease, informs you of the preparations he must make, and leaves for Somergleam on horseback to return in the morning.

The party, such that it is at this early stage, go their separate ways for the day. Lorawyn, Adrik and Kaila set about packing their things from the rooms they have at the Salty Bandit; strange as it is, the room was free once you mentioned Simon's name.

Darrin, having made fast friends with Nix and her cohort, accompanies them initially to the smithy. Griswolf, a man with the build and bearing of a dwarf yet over 6 feet tall, towers over Nix as she offers minor repairs in exchange for coin. His hairy, soot-covered arms visibly bristle every time the man turns and is stopped by the unmoving form of Darrin. He accepts the offer, and hands Nix a small open box of wooden and metal bits. Broken hatchets, cracked music boxes and overworn nails are easily and quickly repaired. Nix takes the first piece, a bent and broken iron nail. She holds it in one hand, remembers her training and palms two small lodestones from a pouch. As the words mechanically come back to her, she recites the spell, rotates the stones between her fingers and pushes on the nail. No lights, no sounds apart from the occasional clack of the stones as they pass each other, and without any effort Nix manages to push the nail back into shape. It gives a soft "shink" as the broken parts are pushed back together. As the nail is dropped into a bucket and the next item picked up, Griswolf stops staring and gets back to hammering a scythe into shape, barely taking note of the various small helping hands pushing things closer and fetching hammers and pales of water for him.

Darrin moves on, watching people and talking to a few. He encounters a Gnome trader named Tubanen on his way to Somergleam Hold, stopping off in Bersault for lunch. They talk for a while of weather and business, but then seamlessly move on to talk of more mythical matters: Dragons. Tubanen shares what he knows, the stories and information. It's not much, and the only Dragon sighting in recent memory was that of a dark shape flying over Somergleam Hold at night. He does, however, think this was real; a similar shape was seen hours later flying over an Elven settlement to the east.

Tubanen, upon reaching a fever pitch in his excitement to talk about this, is suddenly stopped in his tracks when a commanding voice overtakes him.
"Tubanen, are you worrying the locals again?" A Gnome woman, ages with Tubanen, marches from a market stall with a basket of cakes, a look of teasing concern on her face. "Come along now, dear, we have a journey to make and business to conduct."
"Yes, Iresha." Tubanen says, coyly. Turning back to Darrin, he quickly emboldens "We shall have to meet again on the road. Best of days, friend."
As the two climb back aboard their wagon ready to go, Iresha climbs back down, squabling with Tubanen out of earshot as she does so. She rushes over with a broad smile and a fruit bun in hand. "This is for you, dear, to make up for the chatterbox. Be sure to look out for us; the finest cloths and rarest jewels in the region." After handing you the inordinately sticky bun, she quickly turns and runs back to the wagon, giving the donkey pulling it a quick tap and a "Hyah!" as she climbs the last steps up.

Bennet spends the afternoon mostly in the Tavern, chatting up a storm. The locals let him in on a few tips, such as the secret games of chance happening at some of the seedier ends of Somergleam, and the best time of the week to sneak milk from the nearby farm. A few tidbits do fall loose of the Citadel, however: overwhelmingly the concensus is that it's a cursed place where a mad and evil king once ruled with an iron fist, although you clearly see through the tale. What you do divine as being rooted in fact is that few have ventured out that way, fewer still have returned, and even fewer than that live to tell the tale.

As the sky darkens and the air crispens, the hearth is stoked, the mead and pork becomes tastier, and the warm evening mood is uplifted by a bard singing songs of full harvests and fuller bellies. As the party filters back through the doors, Nix tossing a few well-earned coins to Zook, Ella and Breena, a particularly brazen and flirty Hebda puts her arm around Bennet and whispers, in the way of sweet nothings, "I heard there's been quite a few Cursed Children heading that way, you know. Only the baddest of the bad want to go diving into danger… Are you a bad boy?" Her sultry eyes linger long beyond simple flirtation and seem to show a playful, seductive side to her that mirrors Bennet's own. His eyes drift to Illda across the room, however, as she serves plates and mugs to customers. She is unaware of the interaction.

As the night wears on and laughter and song fill the Tavern, retirement becomes a necessity for some. The wine and mead flow until the moon is high in the sky, but by early morning the Tavern is silent, save the few squeaks of mice and the snoring from the Inn upstairs.

The sun rises hours later, a cool but comfortable breeze coming with it. The smell of booze lingers faintly on your clothes, but the warm basins of water provided in front of your rooms grant you reprieve from the scent and stickiness. As Bennet bathes himself, his mind wanders to the night before. He can remember it all so clearly. The laughter, the warmth, the caress of flesh… and the scar, from shoulderblade to sternum. She didn't speak of it, but you know there is a story.

Down the stairs, Simon waits outside with 2 wagons loaded to the brim with food, water, tents, rope, sacks and other supplies. The tarred canvas' covering the wagons look warm and inviting, and the odd mixture of baking and fish smells provides a strange background for your farewell journey west. "Get comfortable, we have 3 days journey before we reach our destination." Simon waves you all aboard, his pacing and checking of the wagons a mixture of confident experience and nervous anticipation. Ogbert waves you off at the door, and as you pass by the smithy, Girswolf gives a hearty raise of an eyebrow to Nix and her cohort.

The first 2 days go by with nary a horsefly going amiss; the conversation and games becoming as comfortable yet bland as the sunny days themselves. Not an hour into the journey on the third day and storm clouds begin to gather from the sea, which you can see a few miles south. The rain begins to patter down, and Simon reaches into the wagon behind him and pulls on a heavy wool cloak. There are spares for each of you.

After another hour, the rain getting heavier, Simon begins to slow the wagons. Tall grass ahead. "For the next 10 miles, we have these meadows to contend with." The wind begins to pick up, forcing a spray of rain in to Simon's cloak and forcing him to clench his hood tight. "We should be especially careful," he shouts, trying to be heard over the now bitingly cool wind, "my last caravan was ambushed a few miles down the road! Spears from the grass! My bet is goblins! They're known in this area for banditry!" With the wind swishing the grass this way and that, it will be hard to spot anything coming.

What do you do?

Also, feel free to share any stories, jokes and the like that you would have shared in the 2 days journey. If anyone wants to be whittling something or working on a project, let me know.

Bennet: you can choose to leave it as the "a gentleman never tells" version that it is, or you can roll 17 or higher on Persuasion in order to add Hebda to your evening. Or a DC 12 Deception for these to be separate itterations, if you so desire. I hope I'm clear enough…

Darrin: Read the "Dragons" section of the Wiki. It's in both the "Magic" and "Flora and Fauna" sections, since it's linked to both.

Nix: You earned 1gp, and the gratitude of Griswolf the Blacksmith

The Morning at the Salty Bandit continued
Mission Revealed
The assassin darts, half-crouched, across the square and leaps inhumanly high to the top of the nearest building. The dust he kicked up begins to settle slowly, the sun gleaming through the particles making them seem almost magical.
"Was… that what you brought me here to see? Because I think I missed it." Darrin tries his best to stifle his confusion. Adrik approaches Bennet, noting that although there is no physical harm done, the psychological shock of sudden combat has rendered the halfling weaker. "If they're all as subtle as you, we'll have plenty of time to prepare an ambush!" shouts Bennet, to a rousing cheer from the Tavern patrons.
Lorawyn sighs as the sounds of the crowd fade into the background for her. "Great, trouble again. And I thought this was going to be a rather peaceful mission."
Taken aback by the shouts, Simon draws back into his seat and appears a little shaken; this is quickly remedied as Kaila palms his ear and twists it firmly, tightening her hand into a fist. Kaila pulls Simon up and forward into a stand as the drunkard stammers and gaspingly exclaims the pain he's in. "Ow, ow ow ow ow ow…"
"Wake up!"
"I'm up! I'm here, I'm up, I just… ow… I'm up."
"Who ARE all these people?" Darrin pipes up, aiming his speach at the now vertical Simon Besal. "Are they all going to jump out of the window? What is going ON, Simon?"
A few of the Tavern patrons clap Bennet on the shoulder after his rousing comeback to the assassin, and a few offers of ale are given. As he sheathes his dagger, he notes the shake in his arm. Pain or nerves, he couldn't quite tell. He could, however, notice the dwarf staring at the harm and muttering to himself, standing all too close.
Adrik's eyes fluttered closed as the world around him seemed to wash away. His words echoed in his ears and he heard the song of the Druid Glade; a song sung by the most fair of fey maidens, maintained by the Feyweave throughout time and space. The power of the rushing wave, the howling winds and the Oak's trunk fills Adrik's hand as he remembers his morning prayers, his commitment to his cause, and holds the pain of Bennet firmly in his mind. He makes the gestures, time stretching on in front of him seemingly to infinity, and moves his hand gently forward through the empty void in front of him until it touches Bennet's arm. Adrik's eyes then snap open as the echo of his final word rings in his ears, and he sees the Tavern once again, the smells assailing his nostrils as though they have only just arrived, the sounds almost deafening in their sudden start, the light both blinding and yet somehow orders of magnitude softer than the light Adrik thinks he saw mere moments before.
Bennet sees the muttering Dwarf close his eyes and quickly reach his hand out to grab his arm before Bennet can react. Despite swearing that the hand glowed for a brief flash, all fears and worries briefly escape as the hand relaxes on Bennet's arm. Anxiety and pain flush away and are replaced by a warm sensation of comfort, and the faint sound of a song sung by angels disappears from the edge of his hearing. "My thanks, sir dwarf," he says with a cheery smile, perhaps brought on by the euphoria of the healing, perhaps part of his natural charm. "And well met! The name is Bennet Goodmead, purveyor of fine goods and women wherever I roam!"
Illda stops dead in her tracks behind the Dwarf at hearing this, the halfpint tipping forward and spilling on the floor. Illda quickly realises and lifts the vessel before it empties, turning and rushing towards the bar and grabbing a towel to clean up her mess. The sun must have shone briefly in her eyes, as they're now watery as though misted by tears…
Nix approaches Ogbert at the bar, taking advantage of the attention Bennet is getting, meaning no patrons making demands of Ogbert's time. The gold piece surprises Ogbert and snaps him out of his staring at the halfling. His face is one of surprise, confusion and delight, as he seems to think the gold coin came magically from nowhere…
"Excuse me, my friend, I must apologise for the intrusion on your business. My comrades mean not to cause a scene in your establishment." Nix slides the coin a little closer, still leaving her finger upon it. A tear-filled Illda nearly crashes into the bar and plonks down a half-empty halfpint as she reaches over the bar and grabs the towel from Ogbert's shoulder, bundles it up in her hands and seems to be lost in thought for a moment. She lingers, staring blankly at the towel, then seems to remember where she is and turns, wordlessly, stepping slowly back into the crowd.
Ogbert shakes his head and turns back to Nix, a soft smile on his face. Nix continues "What do you know about any thieves guilds or killers in the area?"
As Ogbert reveals to Nix, in the soft, almost sing-song voice of a patient man, all he knows of the local troubling elements, Simon addresses both Kaila and Darrin in his gruff, croaky voice, obviously grissled from hard nights of drinking and frivolity. "What is going on is I was sleeping off a terrible curse! A… Hag, yes, a swamp Hag cursed me… No matter, you broke the curse! Well done!" Simon quickly moves on, regardless of whether his story is bought or not.
From Ogbert, it is revealed that the assassin is most likely one of the Cursed Children, a group of outcasts that deal in the various shady goings-on in Somergleam. They operate from the capital, and rarely venture out to the smaller towns and farmsteads. They're composed mostly of disenfranchised Humans, Halflings and Dwarfs, although Tieflings and Dragonborn make up a small part of their number. They're small-time thugs and brigands, robbing from road caravans and cutting pursestrings. They're not known as assassins, but will do almost anything for enough coin. Other than that, there's nothing in the way of organised crime in the region; "It's not like those rougher kingdoms to the north. We have a good life here, with wine and song." Ogbert thanks you for the offer of coin, but asks that you keep it. His business is doing well, and if you intend to do something about the Cursed Children, you might need all the coin you can muster. You get the impression that Ogbert doesn't have an adventurous fire, but that he wants what's best.
From Simon, you get 5 silver coins for turning up, along with the shard of an emerald. It's sharp, and very small, the size of a fingernail (This applies to all of you, as once you are done with what you're doing, he calls you over). He dumps this down on the table in small pouches, gestures to them, and them rubs his hands over his face slowly but firmly, trying to wake himself up from his stuppour. Once everyone gathers at the table, Lorawyn seems to bounce from her examination of the emerald shard in her pouch. "Oh, my manners: I'm Lorawyn, pleased to meet you."
You all get the opportunity to greet each other and share your travel experiences while Simon wakes and sobers up, a horn of a bubbling, clear liquid being brought to him by Ogbert wordlessly, as though this is a frequent arrangement. When he finally comes to fully, he clears his throat
"Far to the west is a fallen ruin of an ancient kingdom. Inside as great dangers, and great treasures. I explored the libraries of Korath and Somergleam Hold looking for something on the ruins that might shed some light upon its mysteries, and yet it was a Bard named Thorngauge who finally enlightened me." He swigs from the horn and gasps audibly as he slams it back down, his eyes bulging for a moment before he erupts into a burp that momentarily quiets the Tavern. As the chattering din builds back up, Simon continues, seemingly more refreshed and alert. He begins to animatedly explain about his find, about his journey with a small caravan of cohorts to the ruins, and the attack they sustained. It turns out that Simon received a vision during his nightly prayers of a dark power rising in the west, and that Somergleam Hold would be shrouded in evil. His vision didn't share what the evil was, but he summoned you all here to travel with him to explore the ruins and hopefully stop whatever it is from being unleashed.
The attack on his former caravan, which was composed entirely of unskilled tradesmen, was by hidden spearthrowers. He didn't manage to spot any assailants in the long grass, suggesting they were either invisible or shorter than 4 feet. He says that he was struck with a spear and fell unconscious, and when he came to the attackers were gone; Simon abandoned the caravan on horseback when he could no longer staunch their wounds. They were all dead.
The emerald shards were found near the half-buried entrance to an ancient citadel, and are the promise of the treasure surely to be found in such a place. According to the Bard, no treasures from the place have been recovered, but strange creatures and uncaring gangs make their homes there. Regardless of treasures found, Simon promises to fund the expedition by offering 30gp for protection to the area, and 50gp for accompanying him into the citadel. This is total, to be divided between you; he will also be paying for wagons, food and other supplies for the journey so that's not an expense for you. You are granted salvage rights to anything found within, although Simon says that he would appreciate a donation to his temple based on anything found there. His main focus is to find out what is going on and stop any evil.
[Druids: The citadel story pulls you towards the west, suggesting that the Druid Artefact is indeed in that direction. Should the artefact be in danger, or fall into the wrong hands, the darkness and evil Simon describes could well happen.]
What do you do? What stories do you share before Simon fully comes-to? Feel free at this point to suggest what you might do if given 24 hours free time; Somergleam Hold is 4 hours ride northwest, Bersault-on-the-Sea is 2 hours south.
For clarity, please check the Human/Halfling map of Somergleam, the kingdom you ae currently in. The town of Bersault-on-the-Hill (in the Bersault region) is the bottom-right hilltop settlement. Somergleam Hold is the larger top-left settlement. It's north-west of your position. Simon proposes travelling west of your present location into wilderness to find an ancient citadel and dungeon-delve to save the kingdom.
The Morning at the Salty Bandit
Assassin Chase

The snoring Simon appears oblivious to all but his dreams. Kaila stomps over and sits herself down next to him, shifting her Glaive in its moorings. Ogbert visibly whinces at the party being armed, but lets it go nonetheless.
"This better be good, old friend. I left a good job for you."
At this, Simon rouses slightly, bleary-eyed and drooling; as he spots the shady form of Kaila, a sly smirk streaks across his face before his eyes roll back in his head and he falls back asleep.

Illda, having shared a brief flirtation with the Halfling, Bennet, disappears behind the bar to draw a halfpint, stealing glances towards the charming rogue; meanwhile, Bennet's focus shifts exclusively to his quarry, and he disappears deep into the crowd…

Nix, Adrik and Lorawyn, almost all at once, spot the dark and masked figure slinking toward Simon and lurch forwards. Drawing close, Nix takes the initiative in speaking loudly:
"Oh, hello, there! I am Nix of the Order of the Monolith. No need for all that."
The assassin stops moving, staring with fiery bronze eyes at Nix, eyeing the Gnome's stature and bearing as though trying to analyse her. At this, Adrik draws his Quaterstaff and stands with one foot forward of Nix, defensively.

Lorawyn stands imposingly next to her two compatriots as as Bennet draws up behind the assassin, undetected it seems. Nix continues: "Put the knife away before you get yourself killed." As the last syllables escape her throat, the assassin lunges forth with dagger in hand to stab Nix; at this, Bennet springs into action and draws his dagger into the assassin's back. "You should really reconsider your profession, because you are very bad at this one." The assassin audibly groans.

The raspiest of voices, harshly throaty and with an ominous tone, like serpentine rocks scraping against each other, escapes the dark-garbed hitman. "And you should really consider following through!" He spins around, slashing his dagger behind him and catching Bennet by surprise. The halfling brings his own blade up, blocking the blow, but the sudden shock of it still rings up his arm (Bennet takes 3 points of damage).

Dodging back quickly and then slowly turning, trying to catch the eyes of everyone in the party, the assassin edges slowly towards the nearest window. "More of us will come. None of you are safe!" He then does a heel-turn and sprints towards the window, dodging the Glaive-handles, leg trips and spontaneous lunges trying to stop him; he dives through the window cleanly, not even touching the frame as he seems to glide effortlessly through, and lands outside in the dusty street.

As Illda lifts the halfpint she was pouring, ready to bring it to Bennet, she notices he is not where she left him. She wanders back around the bar and bumps past Darrin, who has only just noticed the assassin as he jumps through the window: "Who in all hells is that?"

The tavern falls silent and everyone turns to look. Simon snorts loudly and bolts upright, eyes darting everywhere, completely lost.

What do you do?

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The dawn breaks over the hills of Somergleam, the human kingdom in which you find yourselves. The sun glints blindingly from the worked stone rooftops atop Somergleam Hold to the north, atop the mighty hill in the distance. From your current vantage point of your bedroom window, at the Salty Bandit Inn and Tavern, the far away city seems almost magical, a soft mist settling at the base of the city walls.

In the town of Bersault-on-the-Hill, where you are staying, the breeze carries with it the oddest mixture of smells; Bersault-on-the-Sea, the nearby coastal settlement, brings in fresh fish for the market, while bread is being baked mere yards away. Pastries, pies, and a veritable feast of vegetables are on offer today. Harvest time!

As you collect your things and reflect on the day ahead, your mind wanders. A past adventure, a fleeting romance, a daring escape. The thought lingers.

Your patron, Simon, summoned you most mysteriously. While you were in the area, it certainly wasn't something you were announcing. And yet the pony messenger found you anyway… The messenger boy was young, perhaps 9 years old, but carried himself in the way of a young gentleman. The tanner's boy, he said, and handed you the message. It was poorly written, certainly not by a scribe, but then again few people in this part of the world are even literate, so in part it's grateful they spelled everything correctly.

"Salty Bandit Inn, 3 days march south. Meet me there. I will be waiting with the branded chain of the Taihun."

Aside from mention of a reward for your time, and a promise of later riches, there was little else. You turned south and headed to the Inn, full speed.

Entering the Tavern portion, you spot the barkeeper Ogbert; a slight whisp of a man barely 5 feet tall and bends in a harsh breeze. His polite manner and gentle way of speaking seem to serve him well, as the Tavern is barely open and yet is already filling up. Hebda and Illda, the barmaids from before, greet you as you enter. You note that no-one seems to mind that Illda sports the pointed ears of a Half Elf, despite hearing harsh murmurs on the road. She smiles coyly, and seems comfortable but not confident.

At the rear, in a corner untouched by the sun starting to stream through opened window shutters, sits the lump of a drunken man. The branded chain of the Taihun around his neck and layered on the table out the snoring man as Simon, the man you've come to meet.

[Adrik and Lorawyn, you were not met by the pony messenger. In fact you were sent to find Simon by your patrons, the Druidic Order. From deep within Archwood in the north is your weaveway portal to your Druidic Glade; summoned there, you were told of Simon Besal and his mission. Yours is to find out how close his discoveries are to the nearby Druid Artefact, of which you know nothing and are not permitted to know. You are also shown a vision of the group you will meet at the Tavern, and tasked with protecting them until such time as you can confirm the safety of the Druid Artefact. You are also told that you will know you are getting close to the artefact.]

The Tavern gets busier, and the noise begins to become distracting. Adrik notices before anyone else the masked assassin edging along the far wall toward Simon…


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