As morning dawned, the members of the party found themselves apart for the first time.
Frost, having spent the evening in the tree line rose before the sun. The evening before he had hunted and gathered enough food for the night and morning. Pushing dirt onto his campfire, Frost took one more moment to mark his territory before heading into the village. First stop, the local inn. He needed to see a dwarf about a particular Aberration staying in one of her rooms…
Saileach woke upon his bed of moss in the woods he had lived in the majority of his life. The area has been generous to him over the years, and last night’s peaceful sleep was not lacking for comfort. It was good to sleep under the stars again. Washing himself off with the dew of the forest, Saileach marched forward to join his companions. Few bird calls this morning, a sure sign of trouble on the horizon.
Victor tightened his gauntlets and drilled the local militia again. These were farmers turned warriors, and too many had fallen. Having seen the horrors that await the fallen members of Tempest, Victor pushed them harder than before. Knowing that Hobgoblin settlement was within marching distance put him at ill ease. Seeing the other members enter the village, Victor toweled himself off and moved to aid Wilhelm.
Jett was one of the few outsiders to the village and thus stated at the inn, a place called “The Steel Wheel”. Run by a most unpleasant dwarf named Retch, Jett had spent the evening trying to talk to the locals. For the most part, they shunned Jett but left him alone. As the potential for violence rose an older gentleman had defended Jett. Sleeping poorly, though in a bed for the first time, Jett had just entered into a deep slumber when his door burst open. Something small, humanoid, and greasy jumped on top of him. Before he could react, the creature crawled next to him and kicked him out of his bed. Landing on the hard floor, Jett’s eyes adjusted to the outside light and saw Retch in his bed. She was mumbling, and as she exited the room all Jett could hear was “That’s all he paid me for”
The others arrived at Wilhelm’s residence and were immediately invited in. As seats were being taken, Frost requested breakfast and some tools for drilling out the wolves teeth he had collected. Confused, Wilhelm asked Victor to get a tray from Retch. No one could be sure, but it almost seemed like Victor shuttered as he ran out the door. Wilhelm presented the party with three options of the city elders to speak with: Vren Albright, the town’s advisor and healer; J’nae Colridge, perhaps the most traveled of the city elders; and Elandriel Diastar, the youngest member of the council. At mention of Elandriel, a few members of the party noticed that Wilhelm was trying to conceal his disdain. Frost interrupted Wilhelm and asked about the Halfling child he had yet to meet. Wilhelm believed she was with Vren so the party elected to meet with him first.
As Vren entered Wilhelm’s residence, he was followed by two others. The first was a young girl, a toddler to most. Further inspection would reveal that she was in fact a young Halfling teenager. Behind her walked a young human teen. His most notable feature was his hair which had a near silver luster to it. It was eventually revealed that his name is Wolfred.
As the newcomers took places at the table, Frost stood and tried to sit himself next to the young Halfling. Vren refused to move and the new human teen scooted closer to the girl. Instead, Frost sat himself down behind the girl on the floor. The girl appeared to be frightened and intimidated by this action so Frost called forth his spirit companion Smoke. Smoke slowly approached the girl, his eyes back in a submissive pose. The girl smiled at the spirit companion and slowly settled down.
The party began to question Vren about his knowledge of the surrounding area. Frustrated by the constant interruptions, Vren had very little to say. The highlights included: - Vren knew of no disappearances of Tempest children. However, he did state that the natural flow of life had been interrupted near Tempest and that no elven children had been born for some time. When pressed by Frost as to why the elves were affected first, Vren tried to describe the connection of the elven soul to the natural world. Frost disagreed on his assessment on theological differences, and Vren had little more to say on the subject - Vren suggested that more clerics of his Order might know about the Serpent Temple and that the party should check with a larger Temple. - Vren mentioned that the Halfling girl had not spoken since she arrived and that she spent most of her time staring into the city fountain. He recommended someone return her to people, and that a meeting of the Halfling chieftains was scheduled soon.
Deciding that Vren had little else to give to the party, the decision was made to meet with J’nae. As the party waited, Frost not so gently reminded Wilhelm about the refreshments. As J’nae arrived, so did Retch with a platter of food. The young grey haired boy quickly filled his plate with all meats, the rest of the party slowly filled their plates with cheeses, bread and breakfast meats. Frost turned to Jett and asked him how his night was, probing about his morning company. Jett’s eyes squinted and he barely responded.
J’nae offered to help the party collect information in some of the larger cities. For the small price of a few thousand gold, she could get the information they requested. When the party balked at her price, she pulled out a small throwing knife and began cleaning her nails. She then started to rattle off the various people she’d need to bribe to get the information. Bored, the party turned the conversation to the local politics. J’nae laughed when the party mentioned Wilhelm’s barely concealed contempt for Elandriel and then explained that Elandriel had larger plans for Tempest than many of the “old timers”. Elandrial wanted to build a permanent establishment with city walls and road. Apparently he thought that there was enough worth mining in nearby mountains to put that sort of investment. As J’nae rose to leave, she tossed the throwing knife to Frost and made some offhand comment about “cleaning up your nails” and then dashed out the door.
The party requested the last of the city elders that could meet with them to be brought in. Elandrial arrived, the image of a preening peacock. His hair was slicked back and he wore fine tailored clothing of exotic clothes. Frost teased him about his suit, to which Elandriel offered up the name of a good tailor. When pressed about the same issues, Elandriel had little to add to the parties understanding. He did mention that a caravan had just arrived and that perhaps they had some additional information. Seeing no reason to probe Elandriel any more, the party gathered their belongings and walked out of Wilhelm’s residence.
Crossing the village center, the party began walking towards The Steel Wheel. A man that none of the party had seen suddenly yelled “He’s the one that attacked our caravan” and pointed a sword at Jett. The flash if swords being drawn sent the villagers into a panic and they crowd began running in all directions. Not being from the village, Jett, Frost, and even Saileach had difficulty knowing who was friend and foe. Victor on the other hand knew who was a stranger and began to stalk them. A female warrior rushed forward and placed herself between the party and Elandriel. The young Halfling girl cowered against the village fountain and the young silver haired boy shimmered and transformed into a wolf to protect her. The party was hard pressed to keep the villagers safe, but eventually they were able to dispatch of the assailants. One assailant escaped into the crowd, and another was taken prisoner. When everything settled down, the party was alone in the village center with their captive. Jett began to interrogate the man as Frost communed with the local spirits for advice on how to break the man. Time passed and Jett became increasing frustrated by the lack of cooperation. Jett pulled his flail out and struck the captive in the knee. A loud wet crack met his strike and the man howled in pain. Frost offered the man healing if he agreed to cooperate, but the man’s pain blinded him. The young boy stepped forward and began to set the shattered knee as best as possible.
Suddenly the heavens opened up and a great column of light stuck the ground. Inside the light were Angelic figures in armor. As a Chorus, they struck down Jett leaving nothing but a smoking husk behind. As the light retreated, one of the Angelic beings took mercy on the prisoner and ended his torture. The young boy turned his attention to Jett and was aided by Frost. Through their combined expertise, they were barely able to revive Jett before his spirit passed on.
The party looked around the village square. On-lookers were starting to form small pockets and the murmur of rumors started to swirl. Looking for answers the party turned to find Elandriel, but he had escaped during the post-fight confusion.
The party split into two groups. The majority of the party left for “The Steel Wheel” to confront the merchant caravan about the attack. Saileach departed to find Elandriel and draw him out of his home. As the majority of the party arrived at “The Steel Wheel” they found the entrance to the stable partially blocked by a wagon. Behind, the sounds of movement and the occasional shout could be heard. Frost and Wolferd scouted ahead to see if they could determine what was happening. For their efforts, they learned that there 4 additional guards behind the walls and the caravan master. They were armed, though not heavily. From the panicked tone in the caravan master’s voice, they had not anticipated being attacked in Tempest. Wilhelm arrived and began to negotiate with the caravan. In order to further intimidate the mercenaries, Frost had his spirit companion appear inside the compound. Bow strings sang as the mercenaries did their best to defeat the beast, but no arrows found their mark. The caravan buckled down and prepared to be siege.
The young silver haired boy stepped forward to aid in the negotiation. His young voice called out to the caravan and eventually the caravan master resigned to his fate. The mercenaries began to move the wagon out of the way.
Meanwhile, Saileach arrived at Elandriel’s home. It was a three story compound behind a low wall and at present there were two armed guards standing outside. As Saileach approached, their hands fell to their swords but they did not draw. Saileach began to argue with the pair, eventually turning to intimidation to scare one of the guards away. The shutters to the second level flew open and Elandriel peered out. He explained that he feared for his safety and that he would not exit the home. His words were like honey, and he convinced Saileach to leave and bring back news of the caravan. Saileach checked in on the caravan and brought news back to Elandriel. After some dialog, Saileach was able to convince Elandrial to bring his guards and join the rest of the village at “The Steel Wheel”.
Just as the wagons were moved out of the way of the stable, Saileach arrived with Elandriel in tow. Having waited for this moment, Frost slowly made his way through the crowd doing his best to blend in. When no one was looking, he disappeared and made his way to Elandriel’s home. The front door was locked, but it appeared a second story window was unlocked. Frost clamored up the side of the home and made his way inside. The house was lavishly decorated. Frost immediately moved to the bedroom and began to “toss” the place looking for any papers or clues as to Elandriel’s true motive. He found many documents detailing transactions and with no time to shuffle through them now he found a nice leather luggage bag and stuffed them inside. He found 3 notes hidden in books, all written in Elvish. These were placed inside his jacket. Frost made his way out and threw the leather bag over the village wall. His plan was to retrieve it later.
The rest of the party began to question the caravan master. He had just recently recruited the 4 attackers in Wisner, though they came in 2 pairs instead of one big group. He had no trouble with them on the way down and thought nothing of it. When pressed on his secrecy concerning some topics, it was revealed that the caravan master had smuggled some gems into Tempest for Elandriel. The party searched through the travel packs of the fallen guards. They were standard packs, but buried deep inside one was a note written in common. It described the village of Tempest and a time and location in Wisner. It was signed Krudel.
Frost returned and the party made their way to Wilhelm’s residence to discuss the day’s events. Some decisions needed to be made, and they needed to be made soon.