Stephano di Maturin, a former pirate turned adventuring human fighter. He seeks revenge on a mutinous shipmate and a lost comrade.
Reed Alderleaf, a lightfoot halfling rogue and former member of the criminal Redbrand gang who has returned to bring some frontier justice to those who tried to murder him.
Marker of the Bow AKA Marker of Thundertree, a human archer and folk hero. He seeks to drive out the dragon, Venomfang, from the ruins of Thundertree and thus bring peace and prosperity to his home once more.
Tobrek the Cleric, a human raised by dwarfs who has been chosen to fight as a warrior priest in the coming war against evil.
Chamberlain the Druid, a man that has ventured forth from his hermitage to find a corner of the natural world to protect and nurture.
Harravak of the Moors AKA Harravak Halfblood, a half-orc ranger with a wolf familiar called Grunaver. He has turned his life's misfortune into a life's quest, he tracks the growing horde of his hated enemy (King Obould of the Many-Arrows orc tribe) and sells the information to the Lord's Alliance. As the orcs have gathered to the north recently and seem content to stay put he has taken to a little adventuring on the side to make ends meet.
We go back in time slightly to the point when the over-sized original party splits into two. Party B head after the fleeing Black Spider who has used a small boat to escape from Wave Echo Cave.
Reed finds some tracks that split off in three directions, one set from a handful of goblins another from two heavily laden bugbears and the last from some giant spiders that follow the river. The group swiftly track down the goblins that were left behind to spy on the goings on at the mine and wipe them out. They also manage to track down the bugbears and relieve them of the chest of coins and loot they were guarding but once they try to pick up the trail of the Black Spider it has gone very cold indeed.
Returning, forlorn, to town they spend some time spreading copper coins amongst local urchins hoping to pick up a scrap of a rumour about the Black Spider. In the meantime they are taken aside by Lord Corlynn when they stop by to exchange currency and he asks them to clear out Tresendar Manor for him as it has a few squatters. Along with Sildar Hallwinter he has arrested most of the Redbrand gang and their contacts (including Grista the erstwhile owner of the Sleeping Giant and the corrupt Town Master Harbin Wester) but now there remains a bit of mopping up to do, a task which would suit the party perfectly. They are to look out for information on one Iarno Albrek while they're about it.
Reed makes contact with Halia Thornton who recognises him as a former Red Brand rogue and Phandalin resident so she offers him a place in the Zhentarim. He readily agrees and is given the task of making sure Halia gets a shot at questioning the Red Brand leader Glasstaff before Lord Corlynn. Reed spends his advance on a pair of surly thug bodyguards and an urchin apprentice who can guard his pony.
After a chat with his local aunt and nephew Reed learns of a secret entrance to the manor crypts and eagerly tells the others.
The party go for a stealthy infiltration of the Red Brands stronghold beneath Tresendar Manor using the secret tunnel. The way in leads to a heavily damaged cellar room with a ten foot deep chasm running through the middle. Several openings and corridors exit from this area.
They are able to enter unobserved and choose to use the time and privacy they have been afforded to rig up some traps. They are eventually disturbed, however, by the resident Nothic who live in the chasm. It is one a bizarre race of creatures that each begins life as a mage that has striven too hard for power. The party attempt to bribe the monster who, cackling, seems to accept and shuffles off into the shadows.
The party find two doors near to the tunnel that seem to have enemies behind them so they quietly squeeze a few iron spikes into strategic points on one door while rigging the adjoining corridor with a fire trap. They abruptly open the unlocked door and toss in a glass flask of lantern oil followed by two devastating fireball spells. The resulting carnage wipes out four Red Brand thugs mid-card game (and melted the pile of gambled treasure on the table together, naturally). As the bugbears next door rush to find out what the noise is about (fights over card games are common enough to ignore but tortured screaming caused by a fiery death is harder to ignore) but they cannot burst through the jammed door. Knowing the hastily wedged door won't hold for long the party fall back to the tunnel entrance and the Nothic's chasm lair.
Three bugbears eventually burst from their room and rush furiously down the trapped corridor. They are engulfed in flames and retreat, panicked, back down the way they came. Before the party can follow up this success they are ambushed from behind by the last of the Redbrands led by Glasstaff, who is none other than the Iarno Albrek himself who has betrayed the Lord's Alliance, and accompanied by the treacherous Nothic.
The fight is preceded by Iarno taunting Stephano with a bill of sale for his son who was sold into slavery after the mutiny that changed his life forever; somehow the Nothic had used the power of his eldritch gaze to learn Stephano's secret!
The fight then begins in earnest. Harravak leaps over the chasm and kills one of Iarno's thugs. The three wounded bugbears charge out to take their revenge but Chamberlain and Tobrek work together to ensare the beasts in magic vines before delivering a deathstroke to each in turn.
Before long, all the heroes are wounded and Iarno's magic is causing them a big problem but Harravak leaps to the attack and spectacularly slices open the evil mage's throat with one stroke of his blade. This turns the tide of battle, the Red Brands are all killed and the last, snared, bugbear surrenders while the Nothic flees. After a morale debate the bugbear, Grok, is disarmed and freed so he flees.
Despite the victory Reed is annoyed with the half-orc, Harravak, as he had expressly spoken of his desire to capture the Red Brand leader alive. Harravak is somewhat sheepish and claims to have 'forgotten about that'.
The party spend some time looting the now empty Tresendar crypts. Reed engrosses himself in Iarno's study going through his papers, searching for something that might mollify Halia.
Harravak finds a cell housing a frightened women and her two children. They are at first terrified of him and his harsh appearance but he calms them down and sets them free. The woman, Mirna Dendrar, explains that the Red Brands murdered her husband (the local carpenter) for refusing to pay protection money and planned to sell the rest of the family into slavery.
Reed finds enough important documents to hopefully satisfy Halia as well as information on the likely destination for Stephano's unfortunate son (the orc camp on Wyvern Tor). Stephano having recovered the writ of sale form Iarno's corpse notices a chest in the Nothic's chasm and climbs down to investigate. He is rewarded with the discovery of a fine, magical Longsword inscribed with the name 'Talon'. Both he and Reed then join the rest of the party near the cells.
The last room remains to be uncovered, the Tresendar family tombs. Marker leads the way and almost blunders into a pitfall trap but luckily manages to stagger backwards from the fall. Once in the tombs Marker greedily pops open the lid of the first one, only to unleash an angry skeleton! Two more shift open their graves and join the fight. Tobrek suggests they all fall back before leaping over the pitfall trap and watching the hapless undead as they fall in. Despite this somewhat optimistic plan the others agree and everyone makes it to the other side... except poor Reed who trips and plummets into the trap! To make matters worse, one of the skeletons also falls in on top of him, though the other two make the jump easily enough. The party cannot spread out and use numbers to their advantage in the confines of the corridor so Tobrek uses a spell to blast one of the skeletons backwards and give them more time. Unfortunately this skeleton is blasted back into the pit, on top of the other skeleton and Reed who is by now apoplectic at his comrades. Reed is badly wounded by the struggling skeletons and loses consciousness and the fight becomes a race to kill the three skeletons and rescue the halfling thief. Tobrek makes it in the nick of time and undoes his error with a life-saving healing spell.
The party finally satisfy themselves that they have cleared out the crypts and return, dishevelled but happy, to Lord Corlynn who rewards them well. Reed gives Lord Corlynn enough evidence to prove Iarno's guilt but keeps the juicy bits for Halia, who later proves to be not ungrateful. Pleased with the results, Lord Corlynn offers them another job when they're ready. They are to head over to Leilon and seek out a cursed tower in the centre of the abandoned town that seems to be magically keeping monsters bound there to guard over the ruins, making it impossible to resettle. Lord Corlynn also promises to have his scouts investigate where Stephano's son might have been ultimately moved to as the Orcs at Wyvern Tor were slaughtered recently by another force and no slaves were recovered.
Before darting off to start another job so soon the party decide to indulge in a bout of carousing. This lasts nine days and sees Stephano get married to a local bar maid (who is gifted much of the party's collected jewelry) and has Marker waking up on the fifth day in jail for disorderly conduct unbecoming a citizen of Phandalin. Betsy di Maturin, Stephano's bride, is delighted to be given the recently purchased Sleeping Giant Inn by her new husband and consequently falls pregnant on the short but sweet honeymoon.
As a pair of added bonuses concerning their new mission, not only does some investigation turn up a clue from the local urchins that the Black Spider has holed up in Crossroads Keep (which is on the way to Leilon) but even better the Barracuda (Stephano's old ship) has been sighted very recently off the coast of Leilon running slaves and other contraband. If the party hurry (and ease up on the carousing for a bit) they can potentially kill many birds with one stone. Before they leave town the party pay the local smith a healthy cut to smelt down the congealed treasure from the card game and cast up some ingots.
The party are concerned by Grunaver's behaviour on the road from Phandalin to Crossroads Keep, he is clearly trying to warn them in his canine way of something on the trail behind them. The party set an ambush and lie in wait. A group of sorry looking thugs appear on the road before long and the party are tempted to let them pass without springing the ambush. At the last second it occurs to someone that they may be a diversion but it is too late, an assassin leaps from the bushes and begins his attack on the party! The thugs don't look very capable and react slowly but they get in the way of several party members. Eventually after a tough fight the assassin is defeated but the heroes are unable to take him alive as they had wished, leaving them none the wiser about the reasons behind this.
(Note: the Black Spider had sent the assassin, Renley, to Phandalin to deal with the party as revenge for harrying his soldiers after they fled Wave Echo Cave and stealing his treasure but Renley was forced to move early, hence the unprepared thugs, when he discovered the party was on it's way to Crossroads Keep. This information will likely never become known in the game but I can include it here as an aside for curious readers.)
Once at the overgrown shell of Crossroads Keep the party take some time to use Chamberlain's druidcraft and Harravak's ranger skills to allow them to sneak up very close to the enemy. A bitter and tough fight ensues but the party's careful planning and preparation gives them the edge over what would ordinarily be a deadly foe. Reed in particular shines as he plunges arrow after arrow into the Black Spider's forces from the mezzanine which he had secretly climbed to. Chamberlain succumbs to many wounds from both a human (Jago) and a doppelganger (Vhalak again) assassin but is saved by Tobrek. Eventually the Black Spider is killed, fittingly by Reed's archery, and Jago and Vhalak who are the only survivors flee into the surrounding woods.
This is where we leave off for now, next stop, the haunted ruins of Leilon.
Thanks for stopping by!