The Fade Giveth, The Fade Taketh: Episode 3 Finally, Phandalin
(I don’t own any of what you’re about to read, but if you’d like to read the saga from the party’s first adventure, click here.)
Sildar, weakened from his handling by the Cragmaw Tribe goblins, came to as the young fighter began his watch. It was early yet, still dark, but Sildar was determined to get to know one of his saviors.
Noticing the battered veteran sizing him up, Ben asked, “What is it?”
Sildar propped himself up a bit, not breaking eye contact. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
Ben started to explain yesterday’s events.
“No,” Sildar interrupted. “I mean, I get what she does –” pointing to Kir’thiri’s sleeping form, “and what his role is –” looking to Vigo, “but what are you doing here?”
A flicker of confusion and wounded pride flitted across Ben’s face.
“That’s not –” Sildar shook his head, forcing his mind to behave. To provide the words he was looking for. “I’m not saying this correctly. I’m only trying to get to know you. How are you called?”
“Ben,” Sildar nodded. “I’m Sildar. Originally from Saltmarsh, a small port town. Ever heard of it?”
“Yeah,” Ben relaxed a bit. “I know where it is.”
And the two talked until the sun came up. Sildar pointed out ways that Ben could improve his axe-wielding, provided insight into battle tactics one could utilize when fighting in a smaller party. Ben came to nearly forget about the pig he had been hunting for months, his focus crystalizing anew.
Sildar also told of Phandelver’s Pact. How, centuries ago, clans of gnomes and dwarves reached an accord. That they would share a mine rich in mineral wealth and wondrous magical power found within a cavern known as Wave Echo Cave. The founders of the Phandelver’s Pact also allied with human spellcasters to bind and channel that magical energy into a mighty forge, the Forge of Spells, where potent enchanted weapons could be crafted.
Times were good, and the nearby human town of Phandalin flourished. Until the orcs came, sweeping down from the North and destroying all in their path. In the ensuing battle, humans, dwarves, and gnomes fought side by side against the orc horde in defense of the Forge of Spells. So immense was the struggle that few survived the cave-ins and tremors caused by the magicks unleashed, and the location of Wave Echo Cave was lost.
Then Gundren and his brothers, Nundro and Tharden, through their exploits, discovered the entrance to Wave Echo Cave. The Rockseekers knew what they’d stumbled upon and, giddy with excitement, Gundren left his brothers in Phandalin and headed north for more supplies to excavate the mine. But not before they made a map so they could navigate the mountain and relocate the buried entrance.
Alas, Gundren couldn’t hide his excitement during his journey north, hinting to various fellow travelers at what he’d found, going so far as to even mention his map, and word had gotten out to other interested parties.
Sildar, who was already coming to Phandalin to seek the fate of his old friend Iarno Albrek, was further tasked by the Lords’ Alliance with accompanying Gundren safely to the frontier town.
By the end of Sildar’s tale, the rest of the party awoke. Ben relayed what he’d been told of their situation, and, after taking Sildar’s suggestion to retrieve and return the Lionshield Coster goods stashed inside the Cragmaw hideout, broke camp and prepared to leave.
Then Kir’thiri heard sounds coming their direction through the tree line toward the road. Hushing her party, she listened more closely, recognizing the voices.
“We’ve got company,” she grunted, rolling her eyes.
It was the return of The Heroes Triumvirate — Sir Braford, Karakas, and Erky Timbers — alongside the Hucrele siblings, Talgen and Sharwyn, the colorful ensemble that the party met in Helm’s Hold earlier in the week. Noting that, if they had been bound for Oakhurst, they were far from their goal, Vigo said so.
“You also look the worse for wear,” the warlock further pointed out.
“That’s due in large part to our having ever spoken to you all,” Sir Braford said. “Helm’s Hold was overtaken and nearly destroyed by mad cultists, burning all they laid hands to, seeking someone named Vigo, the son of Fildo Bigheart. The Order of the Gilded Eye only narrowly won the day. We barely escaped with our skins once we were set upon by that zealot Qerria and her ilk. They sought you since you’d had some kind of falling out with a few of the cultists.”
“We’ll camp here tonight, make for Oakhurst in the morning,” Karakas said, gathering some branches to make a fire.
The guilt overwhelmed Vigo, who tried to convince his party to postpone finding Gundren to see The Heroes Triumvirate and the Hucreles back to Oakhurst, but no one else present seemed to think it necessary. The heroes left for Phandalin.
Upon arriving in town, Sildar led the party to Stonehill Inn, where everyone lined up rooms for themselves. Ben, Vigo, and Kir’thiri delivered the goods to both Elmar Barthen of Barthen’s Provisions and Linene Graywind at Lionshield Coster, being well-paid for their trouble. They were told of The Redbrands, an outfit of ragtag locals used to protect the frontier town who had begun to wreak havoc on its citizens while Townmaster Harbin Wester seemed unable, or unwilling, to doing anything about them.
Returning to Stonehill Inn for a meal and drinks, Vigo gave a cold coin to a grateful barmaid, overpaying her by a large margin, and suddenly the party found themselves waited on hand and foot. Tavern gossip made its way to them — Rebrands murdered a local woodcarver, orc raiders on the east end of Triboar Trail, a young boy found a hidden tunnel in the woods. Vigo wanted to aid everyone. Ben, potentially due to Sildar’s influence, wanted to stay on the task of saving Gundren. Kir’thiri just drank cider after finding “town food” not to her liking. She drank a second cider. After the third, she needed aid in finding her room.
The next morning the party met Sildar brooding over a parchment. It seemed that magical weapons had been stolen from various temples and estates around northern Faerun, the thief leaving clues to their location in rhyme on printed parchment in cities around the realm.
Undecided on their next course of action in locating Cragmaw Castle and attempting to rescue Gundren, the party finished their breakfast. Vigo wandered over to The Shrine of Luck and met Sister Garaele. She told him of her mission: to seek out the banshee Agatha who resides northeast of town and offer a jeweled comb to her in trade for the location of an ancient spellbook belonging to the legendary mage Bowgentle. She offered Vigo three healing potions if he accepted the quest in her stead.
Vigo ran to the rest of his party with the news.
“That’s a stupid idea,” Ben said, annoyed. “Let’s just go find Gundren.”
Kir’thiri wasn’t much of a mind to help the Sister either, and the three argued about it on the way to meet Sildar at the Townmaster’s Hall. Sildar was inquiring after his friend Iarno to the Townmaster. The party noticed a sign hanging that read that there was a reward for rooting out the orcs along the Triboar Trail northeast of town. Kir’thiri was nearly always of a mind to kill orcs and started to come around to Vigo’s “Help a Sister out” plan.
“Besides,” she said. “Maybe we can ask the banshee where Cragmaw Castle is.”
Not having much luck in his search for Iarno, Sildar bid the party continue searching for Gundren on their end, and he’d question the townsfolk on his end.
Having finally decided to seek out the banshee, in Ben’s case begrudgingly, the party left the Townmaster’s Hall.
They were met by a party of Redbrands who told them to leave their stuff and get out of town. Unwilling to do so, the party attacked. Except, at some point during the morning, Steward and Y’inyahin had disappeared into the Fade!
The battle was tougher than it might have been at full force, but Ben, Vigo, and Kir’thiri stood victorious by its end. Standing over the slain Redbrands, the newly-fashioned trio decided to leave town to the sound of Townmaster Wester shouting after them.
They were bound for the Triboar Trail . . .