Almost obviously, tomorrow was indeed another day. It was a beautiful day too. The sun was shining and the weather was sweet. As the adventurers slowly woke up – or in the case of the elves, stirred – they realized that their bodies were still aching from the adventures of yesterday.
After all, they had killed a goddamn bugbear. Klarg was no more and the goblins were revolutionized and radicalized. They would not bother them anymore.
They packed their camp, got on the wagon that was driven by two oxen, and made their way to Phandalin.
The rutted Triboar Trail emerged from a wooded hillside and the adventurers caught their first glimpse of Phandalin. It consisted of forty or fifty simple log buildings, some built on old fieldstone foundations. More old ruins – crumbling stone walls covered in ivy and briars – surrounded the newer houses and shops, showing how this must have been a much larger town in centuries past.
Most of the newer buildings were set on the sides of the cart track, which widened into a muddy main street of sorts as it climed toward a ruined manor house on a hillside at the east side of the town.
As they approached, they could see children playing on the town green and townsfolk tending to their chores or running errands at shops. Many of them looked up as they approached, but all returned to their business as they went by.
Now that he was no longer a prisoner, Sildar seemed like he was much more at ease. “My friends,” he said, addressing the adventurers. “Let us secure lodgings. I am told the local inn is very quaint.”
All the while, he looked like he wanted to add something new to the narrative, but never quite found the opportune moment to bring it up. It probably would come up eventually anyway.
Their first destination at the town, however, was Barthen’s Provisions. The adventurers wanted to get paid for fulfilling their end of the agreement. So it was only fair that Barthen paid them what he was owed.
Luckily for them, they didn’t need to search very far, because Barthen’s Provisions was not only the biggest trading post in Phandalin, it was also one of the first buildings one would see as they walked into town from north.
A couple of young clerks greeted the adventurers as they entered Barthen’s Provisions. The one on the right had bright pink hair, while the one on the left had neon blue hair.
“Hey my dudes,” said the pink haired one, “welcome to Barthen’s Provisions, home to Barthen and his provisions. How can I do you for?”
Maryth, immediately responded, “Uhm, don’t you mean what can I do you for?”
“Oh dope my dude. I’ll remember that yeah. But yeah, suh my dudes?”
Again, Maryth started to respond immediately, but was rather rudely cut off by Paul, who asked, “Hey so, what kind of stuff you have here? Maybe I’d like to buy something.”
The pink haired clerk looked really enthused by Paul’s enthusiasm for shopping. He reached for his pocket and took out a locket. “How about this pocket locket?” he asked.
“Can we please stick to business?” Maryth lashed out.
“Yeah sorry my dude. I’ll go get the boss for ya.”
All the while, the blue haired clerk was staring blankly into space without blinking.
The pink haired clerk went into the backroom and in about fifteen seconds, Elmar Barthen came out. Barthen was a lean and balding human and was overall a very jolly and kindly man. He smiled joyously when he saw the adventurers, but was truly thrilled to see that Sildar was with them.
“Ho ho ho! Welcome to my humble shop. My name is Elmar Barthen, named after my great great great grandfather Elmar Barthen, who invented the apple,” Barthen said.
Confusion spread among the adventurers, but Barthen explained to them that before his triple G grandfather realized that apples could be eaten, humans had never eaten apples before. This was because human culture dictated that red meant stop. Since apples were red, they didn’t eat them.
“That is all fine and dandy and great,” Maryth said, “but we need to get paid.”
“Why of course! Here is the 10 gold pieces you were promised. Speaking of, where is my dear friend Gundren, about whom I care very much?”
Here the adventurers explained to Barthen everything that had happened so far. They talked about the goblin ambush. They discussed the goblin trail. They revealed the goblin revolution plan. They elucidated the attempted goblin prisoner exchange. Finally, they expounded the part where they killed a goddamn bugbear.
“Seems like you guys have been through a lot,” responded Barthen.
“Sh-yah!” Vaerion affirmed. At this point, the adventurers huddled close to discuss what their next plan would be. Most of them, even Vaerion the paladin who would do good deeds for breakfast if he could, thought it made sense for them to ask Barthen to pay them an extra 50 gold pieces each for saving Gundren from whatever predicament he had found himself in.
“Let me do the talking,” Maryth said and as Paul was looking around the shop for some trinkets, he added, “Hey Barthen. We thought it made sense for us to ask you to pay us an extra 50 gold pieces each for saving Gundren from whatever predicament he has found himself in.”
“Of course! Anything for my dear Gundren, about whom I care very much as I have said before earlier.”
Meanwhile, Paul was wandering around the shop, mumbling to himself, “I wonder if they have fidget spinners.”
“I might know two people who might be able to help you, Gundren’s brothers Tharden and Nundro. They are camped somewhere outside town. I haven’t seen them in a very long while, but they should be back very soon to resupply,” Barthen revealed.
The adventurers thanked Barthen and made to leave, but Paul went up to the pink haired clerk and asked to buy the pocket locket.
“Oh my dude, you are in luck for I can give you this for 5 gold pieces.”
“I’ll take it!” Paul said and immediately asked, “Wait, what can I do with this?”
“My dude, it’s a pocket locket that you can keep in your pocket. It has a socket into which you can put anything. And when you need the thing you just need to unsocket it from your pocket locket. So don’t knock it, my dude.”
The rest of the adventurers basically had to literally pull Paul out of that place. What to do next, they thought and the answer was “DRINKS!”
Encounter at the Stonehill Inn
In the center of Phandalin stood a large, newly built roadhouse of fieldstone and rough-hewn timbers. This place is known as the Stonehill Inn, owned by Toblen Stonehill, who hailed from the town of Triboar to the east.
As the adventurers enter the quaint inn, the locals nursing their mugs of ale or cider eyed them curiously, but without hostility. Fortiutously, there was an empty booth at the very back and the adventurers decided to take it.
Soon after they settled into the booth, Elsa, the barmaid, approached them and introduced herself.
“Hi! My name is Elsa and welcome to Stonehill Inn! We have a wide variety of beers, ales, ciders, lagers, and – did I say beers already? And also chicken wings – Starmetal style.”
Elsa listened to the adventurers’ orders very carefully and here’s what the adventurers ordered. Vaerion ordered 12 Starmetal chicken wings and a dark stout; Portnoy ordered a burger and a ray frost ale, made by a microbrewery owned by the Mage school in Neverwinter; Maryth ordered an elven thnh; Lovelace got a F i n e s t Beer; and Paul got a glass of oxen milk and a chicken parmesan.
As Elsa went to bring the adventurers’ orders, Maryth started to talk very loudly about magic, like “that guy who always talks about philosophy at parties.”
“Sure, but none of those necromancers and warlocks who summoned unholy hordes and unleashed them onto Calimshan weren’t REAL wizards. They were just using magic, which is not the same.”
In about 15 minutes, Elsa was back with the orders. Immediately, Paul realized that something was wrong with his chicken parmesan.
“Um, Elsa? This is pretty cool. Can you bring me a new one?”
“Oh? Give it here, I’ll handle it.” With that, she grabbed the plate of chicken parmesan with one hand and conjured a small fireball with the other. She held the magical fire of ball for a few seconds and Paul’s food became warm and cozy.
“There you go.”
As they ate and drank, there was merriment. The adventurers felt like they were really bonding. It was a bonding experience for the adventurers to have decided to come to Stonehill Inn for drinks. Then, Maryth decided to make things even more interesting and goaded Paul into playing his bagpipes! After all, it was tradition for the bard to sing and play at inns.
Paul took to the stage, which the inn had because they were prepared for bards, and took the pipe of his bagpipe to his mouth. But just as he was about to start playing, he vomited all over the stage. Embarassed, but more disappointed he wouldn’t get to play his bagpipes, Paul ran to the bathroom. He’d come back to the booth soon enough.
Also at this point, four scummy looking men entered the inn and everyone suddenly stopped talking. The adventurers could feel trouble was brewing, so they gestured towards Elsa. They wanted to ask her what she knew about the foursome.
“They are ruffians from the Redbrands. Terrible annoying people. I hope they don’t cause any trouble.”
“What did they do?” the adventurers asked all at once.
“Oh terrible. Terrible. There was this woodcarver, Thel Dendrar. They killed him in coldblood! Straight up murdered him. Honestly, no one would miss them if they suddenly… Disappeared.”
The adventurers decided not to bother the Redbrand ruffians for now, but fate had other things planned. While they were walking back from the bar to their booth, one of the ruffians stepped on Paul’s vomit.
“WHOSE VOMIT IS THIS?” the ruffian bellowed. To say that he was peeved would be an understatement. To say that his fury would rival the molten magma of Mount Hotenow would, on the other hand, be an overstatement. He was somewhere in the middle, probably.
And, of course, hearing this Paul puked a little more. The ruffian walked up to the adventurers’ booth and with hate and vileness in his voice said, “So you got puke all over my boot? You knee-biter.”
“Whoa! How dare you!?” Paul said, but Vaerion tried to de-escalate the situation. Portnoy really wanted de-escalation also.
“Haven’t seen you here before. What are a bunch of weirdos and half a weirdo doing in this town?”
“Hey there. Calm down. Here take this napkin to clean yourself. We apologize.”
The Redbrand ruffian used the napkin and then threw it at Vaerion’s face, who managed to grab it midair. Otherwise he would’ve been hit in the face with a dirty puke-covered napkin.
Seeing that Vaerion’s attempt at de-escalation failed, Maryth used a bunch of very big words to assuage the ruffian’s anger. Instead, he made him really confused, but at the end he did manage to get him to leave.
As he was leaving, the Ruffian said “This ain’t over.”
In the end, the adventurers decided to rest for the night. There were enough rooms in the inn for all of them, which was lucky. They wouldn’t have to camp outside the town or try and sleep in some farmers barn.
Before they climbed the stairs to go to their rooms, Vaerion went up to Elsa and said, “Hey, I’m worried for you, so if you feel like you need anything, here’s my room number.”
Tilting her head slightly and putting her hand on Vaerion’s shoulder, Elsa responded, “Oh that’s so sweet, thank you!”
Meanwhile, Paul was grumbling that he would write a very strongly worded negative review for the Neverwinter Times, for which he was a columnist, apparently.
Ruffling Some Feathers
Next morning the adventurers woke up to a crowing rooster. With some melancholy, Maryth realized that the rooster was going through a really tough period in his life, since it was screaming, “OH GOD, PLEASE, END IT, END IT.”
When they got downstairs, the adventurers saw that the inn had prepared a beautiful buffet of continental breakfast for them. They ate quickly, without paying too much attention to what was being served. But Paul was pretty sure there were scrambled eggs and bacon.
They decided to check in with Barthen to see if Gundren’s brothers had come back. When they reached Barthen’s Provisions, the blue haired clerk greeted them.
“Yo… It’s… you all.”
“Can we see Barthen?” asked Maryth.
“Uh…Sure… Let me… uh… get him…”
A few moments later, Barthen came out of the backroom with a worried look on his face. Apparently, Gundren’s brothers hadn’t come back yet. He told the adventurers that they were camped north of Phandalin, so they should be able to find them there.
He then helped them re-stock their supplies and let them go on their way. Maryth decided that he should be the one leading the way, because he was the coolest. Paul said he should go second because he was also cool. But Portnoy said that Paul’s bagpipe was full of mozzarella. Paul didn’t mind, because it was probably true.
As Maryth was leading the way, he realized that he could use some help. So he revealed the fact that he was also a druid, in addition to being a ranger. As such, he could speak to animals. So he called to the wild and a raven by the name of Ra’ven responded.
“Ho there raven!” said Maryth.
“Ay what’s up humans!” said Ra’ven. Clearly, the raven thought all bipedal humanoids were humans. What a silly raven.
Maryth explained to the raven that they were searching for two dwarves. Ra’ven told them that it saw a bunch of humans carrying other humans towards the north. It also clarified that some of these humans were small, green, and had teeth. The adventurers deduced that these had to have been goblins.
“Lead the way, bring us to them!” Maryth commanded and the Ra’ven CHOSE to obey.
As they were walking, they were once again buffeted by the soothing smell of pines, min, and berries and the gentle breeze that hadn’t stopped blowing since three days ago.
Suddenly, Maryth heard a crack and made the whole group stop.
“Guys, I heard a crack, which is why I made the whole group stop,” he said. Then, wondering what the rest of the group thought what they should do, he asked, “What should we do?”
Vaerion proposed that they form a defensive circle with weapons drawn in preparation for an ambush. Maryth’s original idea was to spring the trap, but in hindsight he would realize that that would be a terrible idea.
Instead, they followed Vaerion’s lead, which would give them advantage against their would-be attackers, who turned out to be the four Redbrand ruffians from the day before.
The ruffians immediately rushed at the party, attacking them from three sides. Portnoy and Maryth attacked the one was clearly the leader and had called Paul “knee-biter” yesterday.
Meanwhile, Vaerion engaged the ruffian rushing from their right flank. On the left flank, Lovelace and Portnoy engaged another ruffian, who was attacking Portnoy.
Seeing the one who insulted him yesterday, Paul said “I’ll show you knee-biter” and shot the ruffian in his left knee with his crossbow.
At this point, Portnoy decided to cast a spell he remembered from his academy days. It was a spell called Shocking Grasp, which was easy enough to cast. He just had to recite the arcane words very carefully and the spell would basically cast itself. However, he stumbled upon the words and cast SHUCKING grasp, instead of Shocking Grasp. This caused the ruffian’s shirt to come off. Totally embarassing.
The leader ruffian was on one knee now in front of Maryth, whom he had been attacking. Drawing his two short swords, Maryth crossed them in front of the ruffian’s head. Then, he moved them as though they were a pair of scissors and decapitated him, who died on the spot due.
This caused the other ruffians to reel a little. Taking advantage of this lull in the battle, Portnoy evaded his attackers swings, leaving a trail of arcane fog and glitter behind, and sent a ray of frost at him. The ferocious frost froze the ruffian solid. Then, with a single tap, Portnoy shattered him into a MILLION pieces.
Now that he was done with his target, Maryth turned at Vaerion and summoned vines from the ground to grasp Vaerion’s opponent. “My boy’s in danger. I should probably do something about it.”
The ruffian’s eyes grew large in horror as he realized what was about to happen. With all his might, Vaerion skewered the poor man and raised him to the sky. He had applied so much strength that he even broke Maryth’s vines. The dead man slid towards him, but he flung him away.
Seeing all his comrades were dead, the remaining ruffian raised his hands and said, “All right! Stop please don’t kill me no more I do not want any of this. Not all ruffians, you know?”
By this point, Paul and Vaerion were already pointing their weapons at him. The ruffian was barely moments away from being scared to death. He promised the adventurers that he would tell them where the Redbrand headquarters were if they promised him that they’d let him go free.
“Sure,” Maryth said.
“But how do I know that you’re gonna let me go?” the ruffian asked.
“You don’t,” Maryth said.
Knowing he was pretty much out of options, the ruffian revealed that the Redbrands hid under the Tresendar Manor in Phandalin. After that, Paul shot him in his ruffian face.
After the battle, Maryth called out to Ra’ven once again, who had been watching the whole battle. Then they continued their search for the Rockseeker brothers.
They had been walking for a few miles when Ra’ven perched on Maryth’s shoulder and said, “Hey so… I think we’re lost. We might not be. But I’me nineeeeeeee…. per cent sure that I don’t know where we’re going anymore.”
When Maryth revealed that the raven was lost, the other adventurers threatened to eat the poor bird. But luckily, it had already flown away.
Also luckily, it was at this point that Maryth realized that a piece of parchment was lying on the ground.
He picked it up and here is what was written on it:
Make sure that the goblins deliver the package safely to the castle.
Glassstaff, Leader of the Redbrands ™
Their next steps were now clear. To get to the Rockseekers, they would have to go through this Glassstaff, who was hiding, probably, at the Tresendar Manor in Phandalin.