The Fade Giveth, The Fade Taketh: Summer Meetings
(This is the debut game of “The Party,” a generic title until we come up with a better one to be sure, for the group of players in this D&D game, namely: Vigo = Joe, Ben = Dusty, Ki’thiri = Aizwyn, Y’inyahin = Christina. I don’t own anything that you’re about to read.)
* * * * *
The summer was warm — full of strange storms, unnatural in their chaos. High Road, the most traveled and closest-to-safe path along The Sword Coast, stretched out muddily toward a muggy horizon.
Y’inyahin, a half-elf bard, trudged along the road, lost in thought as she puzzled over a tune she’d been crafting for weeks, its second stanza proving troublesome. She was unaware of the wagon coming along behind until it was near atop of her. A voice called out from behind the reins.
“Y’inyahin, is that you?” a older dwarf called out.
Gundren Rockseeker drove the wagon, a gentleman miner that Y’inyahin had befriended some months back. He offered her a ride, she accepted. Though she was not the only passenger.
“Volothamp Geddarm; scholar, wizard, and published author. At your service!” the thin-mustached man in a floppy hat bowed theatrically. Y’inyahin had heard of Volothamp, of course, having seen his latest book Volo’s Guide To Monsters in various stores across Faerun. The two got on well, discussing the overlapping areas of their given vocations.
It wasn’t long before the wagoned trio came across a young human man. He was a fighter, armed with axes and wandering alongside High Road, seemingly in search of something.
“Have you seen a pig?” the man asked upon greetings.
“A pig?” Volo asked.
“Big pig,” the man returned. “Or a man dressed in white?”
“Um,” Volo looked to his companions.
Y’inyahin stood up in the wagon, searching the horizon.
“Ah, yes,” the man said. “I didn’t think about a higher vantage point.”
“I don’t see any pigs,” Y’inyahin said as thunder pealed, announcing yet another storm.
“Why don’t you hop in, son,” Gundren offered. “Sounds like it’s about to come down again.”
“No, that’s okay,” the still-nameless man answered. “I’ve got to find my pig.”
“When was the last time you had food?” Gundren asked, looking the young man over.
“Well, I don’t know.”
Volo tsked, “Oh, please, sir, join us.” He reached into a sack and pulled out a biscuit.
“Okay,” the man said, climbing aboard as the rain began to fall.
“What’s your name?” Y’inyahin asked.
* * * * *
The wagon came to be stuck in the muddy road as the storm raged harder. Unbeknownst to the company, they were being watched from the forest nearby by a sickly gnome ranger, Ki’thiri. Fever clouded her mind as she stared down the wagon warily. Was it the wagon she sought? From where she would find answers? She thought so and slowly approached.
As Ki’thiri gained ground, she slowed some fifty feet out and reexamined the situation. This was the wagon, she was sure of it! Just then, two people noticed her. Damn her swimming eyes! She’d never been caught so flat-footed before. She pulled her bow and drew and arrow to it. Or, tried to. She dropped her arrows out of her quiver instead. As she reached down to grab one, Ki’thiri passed out.
* * * * *
Vigo Blackstar, a halfling warlock, had been in Helm’s Hold for a few days, and in The Old Dirty Dwarf tavern for most of that afternoon, but things hadn’t started to get interesting until early evening. Just as a group of travelers — a dwarf, two humans, probably a half-elf, and a sickly-looking gnome — came in, quieting the tavern as its occupants examined the newcomers, Vigo overhead a group of men from a nearby table talking. One who was deep in his cups spoke too loudly. Vigo could make out, “Avenge the dragons!” “Greenest,” and “Fildo Bigheart will die!”. Through some drunken shenanigans, Vigo got the men thrown out of the tavern. He’d decided he needed to get a message to one Fildo Bigheart.
Gundren had watched the little bit of theater that Vigo had performed in getting the men thrown out, and bought the halfling a tankard of ale in appreciation. Vigo invited the companions to join his table. As the night wore on, Volo said his goodbyes to the group. He was opting to brave the storm with another caravan that was bound for his beloved Waterdeep. But not before suggesting to Y’inyahin that she look him up if she did, in fact, come to Waterdeep to perform in the Founder’s Day festival.
Before heading to bed, Gundren offered the adventurers 10 pieces of gold a piece to accompany him the rest of the way to Neverwinter to get supplies and then to head south to deliver his wagon full of goods to the small frontier town of Phandalin.
Ki’thiri, having had her fever tended to by this crew and then nursed back to health with hot food, decided to stay with them for the time being. Somewhat out of gratitude, but also because they hadn’t been the wagon she was looking for, as it turned out. Vigo sought adventure and might be headed to Greenest, further south, anyhow. Ben had spent months looking for his pig in Neverwinter, but had not, as of yet, looked further south. Y’inyahin was already headed to Waterdeep, and she knew, particularly after hearing that giants were pillaging along The Sword Coast, that there’s safety in numbers.
The party accepted Gundren’s offer.
* * * * *
In the morning, everyone rose from the rooms that Gundren rented for them and met him back downstairs in the tavern. He was conversing with another party of adventurers: siblings Talgen and Sharwyn Hucrele, Sir Braford, a paladin of Pelor, Karakas the ranger, and Erky Timbers, a gnome cleric. The brother and sister had been headed to Neverwinter in search of help for their small village of Oakhurst when they met the seasoned trio.
News of the realm gathered, Gundren led our adventurers to Neverwinter to meet his friend, retired soldier now sellsword Sildar Hallwinter. Gundren and Sildar headed on to Phandalin as the party waited for the goods to get loaded in the wagon, and then they, too, headed for the small mining town.
* * * * *
About twenty miles outside of their destination, the party came across two dead horses. Black arrows riddled the animals’ corpses. Ki’thiri investigated the scene, discovering that the horses belonged to Gundren and Sildar. Then they were ambushed by four goblins. The party held their own well enough. Or, started to. Then their warlock got a little overzealous with his Sleep spell and knocked out their ranger alongside two goblins. Ki’thiri has remained a touch distrusting of Vigo’s magic thus far.
Keeping one goblin alive, the party questioned it and found out that, while the goblins had instructions to capture Gundren alive and bring both he and his personal effects to a certain location, the same could not be said of Sildar, who was brought to a cavern system just north of the ambush site and delivered to “the eating cave.”
Not wishing to leave Sildar to this fate, the party searched for the caves. Ki’thiri scouted ahead, disabling two traps in her wake. The party reunited at the cave entrance. As a discussion broke out about whether or not Ki’thiri was “stealthy” or not, Ben got a little inattentive to the loudness of his voice, inadvertently revealing their location to two goblins hidden in a copse of trees. Arrows flew until the party was finally able to take out their attackers.
Growling and barking could be heard just inside the cave, so the party took their time devising a game plan. They took a lot of time. Lots of planning. Finally, they landed on trying to trick the inhabitants of the cave by using lights and sound, as though orcs were coming to attack.
Nothing happened. Nothing came out of the cave.
They then entered the cave.
Just inside, the party found three wolves chained to a piton on the cavern floor. Watchdogs for whomever or whatever awaited in the dark cavern. Ki’thiri tried to calm the creatures, using her ranger ways. It worked slightly, as the wolves growled and barked less, at any rate.
Then Ben decided that it was too risky, leaving the animals alive. It left their backs unguarded. He fired an arrow into one of the wolves, enraging all three wolves. Then a battle commenced that infuriated the party. Arrow after arrow missed the wolves. The chained-to-one-spot wolves. The animals pulled and ripped at their chains until finally they busted loose and properly attacked the party.
Y’inyahin, who had abstained from the battle for personal ethical reasons up to that point, finally joined her party.
Just in time for two goblins, hearing the ruckus, to come down the tunnel in front of them.
Ben and Y’inyahin finished off the wolves as Ki’thiri and Vigo took on the goblins. A missed eldritch blast from the warlock, merely singing the last goblin’s ear, caused Vigo to stop said goblin by the face. Palming it, another eldritch blast at the ready, he only said, “Run.”
The goblin did.
The party, much worse for wear, retreated from the cavern system and returned to the wagon at the ambush site to rest. Y’iyahin took the first watch. Nothing came for them that night.
Rested and recharged, the party must decide their next course of action . . .