Enter Norkul and Kalidus
After learning about the possibility of cultist activity via a letter from his childhood friend, Marla, Norkul set off to the Winterhaven region to investigate and put his friend’s concerns to rest one way or the other. Meanwhile, the Grand Church in Fallcrest put out a more general request for aid that managed to reach even a secluded mountain temple dedicated to Erathis. It was from this temple that Kalidus received the call and made his way to Winterhaven as well. Both men had decided that the straightest route was the fastest. While traversing through the forest northeast of their destination, they were both interrupted by the sounds of battle. Norkul arrived on the scene first to see a man getting skewered by a hobgoblin javelin. He drew his sword and swiftly attacked the creature even as more gathered around. Kalidus made his way into the fray shortly after taking another slice out of the hobgoblin scouts. The muscular goblinoids regrouped quickly and tried to intimidate the trio. Norkul and Kalidus managed to prove themselves to be the greater threat and forced the monsters to back off and regroup with their main force. After mending the man’s wounds and escaping, they all introduced themselves.
The man they saved was a courier named Markus. He had been traveling to Winterhaven to deliver two letters when he was suddenly besieged by kobolds. He was knocked off his horse and forced to flee to the north while his steed limped to the east. The kobolds got a lucky shot on him and was bleeding badly. That was when he ran into the Hobgoblins whom nearly finished him off. As Norkul and Kalidus got to talking, they both realized that they were working on the same goal and decided to join forces.
Session 2: Small Village, Winterhaven
At the Gates to Winterhaven, Markus, Norkul and Kalidus ran into a bit of a back-up. There was another group of travelers trying to get into the town just as they arrived. Tabris, Harbek, Stone and Reavis were asking about accommodations and telling the guards about the kobolds. Markus chimed in his two cents and eventually the group realized he was the missing courier. The two groups headed towards the Wrafton’s Inn to swap stories. When Markus got his ledger back, he agreed to deliver messages for all those present free of charge. He owed them dearly for his life and his business. Harbek, never one to believe in coincidences, thought that perhaps their respective quests were somehow linked. They all decided to form an alliance and aid one another in their respective goals.
As happy hour was going into full swing, the group took note of the various patrons and staff in the Inn. Outside of the normal crowd of farmers and hunters there were a few folks who did stand out. A pair of human men, one very well dressed and the other in greyish robes, were chatting quietly among themselves. An old human farmer had taken to drinking at a central table occassionally smiling and just enjoying the atmosphere. At another table, a dwarven man and a tiefling woman were playfully arguing about which one of them could handle their ale. Finally at the far corner of the room, a female elf sat quietly nursing her drink. The owner and barkeep, Salvana, welcomed the group and spoke with them when her assistant staff showed up. Tabris managed to swing a room for himself in return for performing for the crowd. Kalidus decided to ask about cult activity. When Salvana answered that she had no clue what he was talking about, he tried to threaten her. However, she had seen her share of angry drunks and promptly slapped him across the face. She returned his threat by saying she would call the guards if he didn’t behave. Thankfully, the rest of the party eased the tension between the two.
The dwarf and tiefling pair started to call for participants in their drinking contest. Several locals, Harbek and Reavis decided to join in. Tabris pulled out his lute and planned to play appropriate background music for the event. After a false start on stage, Tabris got his stride and showed his bardic skills. Reavis was knocked out cold in the first round. Although Kalidus didn’t actively cheer, he did send psychic messages to mess up the other contestants. Stone offered words of encouragement to bolster Harbek’s resolve. As each round passed, more people either passed out or pulled out. Finally, it was down to the dwarf, the tiefling woman and Harkbek. The tiefling suggested that they used Salvana’s strongest ale for this last round. The first dwarf passed out in this round. Harbek struggled but he managed to down the ale. The tiefling chugged her ale and also remained conscious. Impressed, she conceded that Harbek had an Iron clad stomach. They decided to have one last normal drink for health.
With the contest over, Tabris proceeded to ask about Douven. Salvana pointed him to Eilian the Old, a farmer whom also acted as the local gossip/historian. He informed Tabris that he told Douven of the site’s location. He thought it was just an old trash heap but he respected Douven’s determination and made a map for the explorer. He made a second map for Tabris and wished him luck in finding Douven. Norkul decided to ask Markus about his delivery and learned that Marla had sent a letter to Priestess Linora in Winterhaven with the intent of bringing her up to speed. Norkul requested to deliver the letter himself. Markus agreed but only if he could be there as well. With that, the two agreed to meet with Linora the next day. Meanwhile, Kalidus decided to have a little fun with Reavis. He loosened the string knot on the human ranger’s bow so that the next time he tried to use it, the string would pull off. As happy hour winded dwon, the tiefling woman introduced herself as Nema, a traveling merchant. She gave the group 3 gold to pay for their rooms and stumbled up the stairs to her own room. Tabris, coming up with his own plan, asked Markus to deliver a letter for him. The bard wrote a message to Aria giving her an update on the situation as well as telling her all about Reavis’ lack of support. He even tipped Markus enough to rent a new horse.
The next day came quickly. The group decided to spread out and investigate the town on their own for a bit. Kalidus had a bit of fun at Reavis’ expense. He sent a psychic shout into Reavis’ mind. The ranger woke up in a panic falling over on his back. In a half-sleep daze, he reached for his bow and pulled back on the string. The string promptly snapped from the pressure and struck Reavis in the cheek drawing blood. He left the inn in a panic trying to find a healer for his wounds. Kalidus headed to the guards barracks to learn more about the kobolds. He heard from them that they knew the kobolds were hiding out in a waterfall cavern to the southeast of the village but they couldn’t spare the manpower to clear it out without leaving the village defenseless. Furthermore, they knew that the kobolds were being led by someone named Irontooth. However, Irontooth’s identity was anyone’s guess. There was a 600 gold bounty out for Irontooth.
Norkul and Markus proceeded to the temple of Avandra and found Priestess Linora. They handed her the letter but the priestess was hard pressed to believe the story of cult activity. Linora had certainly never heard of anyone named Kalerel nor anyone matching his description. Still, she didn’t dismiss Norkul’s claim outright and commented on the list of likely suspects. There were only three strangers in the village that matched the timeframe of Kalerel’s likely arrival yet she highly doubted any of them were involved. The first was an explorer named Douven Staul. She didn’t get an evil vibe from him at all but his arrival matched the timeframe. The second was an elven huntress named Ninaran. While it was true that Ninaran was a quiet loner, she always seemed sociable enough. Furthermore, the elf constantly brought in pelts which was not all that uncommon among the hunter population in Winterhaven. The third suspect was Nema, the tiefling merchant. While the tiefling was very boisterous, Linora found herself doubting the woman’s claims about being a merchant. She seemed to spend more time drinking than selling wares but that could be explained by her attempts to get a permit to sell goods by Lord Padraig. Regardless, Linora said she would look into this matter even if she thought this was a wild goose chase. With this matter settled, Markus departed for Fallcrest.
Tabris and Stone decided to go shopping in the open stall market area. Tabris bought a sack from one of the merchants and when he asked about glass jars, he was directed to a stall run by Delphina Moongem, an young elven woman who sold wildflowers and vases for them. He purchased a few vases and stuffed them into the sack. He then proceeded to break the vases in the sack. When Delphina questioned what he was doing, the bard waved off any concern. Once Tabris was finished, Stone directed them both to the local smithy. There they were reintroduced to Thair Coalstriker, the dwarf from the drinking contest last night. Stone wished to purchase a few more daggers. Thair was still a little hungover but in good spirits. He gave Stone the first dagger for free. Tabris decided to seek out another sage in the village while Stone finished his shopping. He found the tower of Valthrun the Prescient, the only local wizard in town. Although he didn’t learn much more information about the dragon burial site, he was given a promise that Valthrun would look up information on Shadowfell Keep to the north for him.
The group reconviened at the Inn. Once Harbek recovered from his hangover, the group decided to speak with Lord Padriag about the kobold problem. Tabris told an extravagant story about the party being world-class kobold slayers. Lord Padriag was impressed enough that he agreed to the request for free food and lodging at the Wrafton’s Inn as well as the 600 gold reward and any plunder they managed to find from the kobolds. Norkul and Kalidus tried to inform the lord about the threat of cult activity but Lord Padriag obviously didn’t believe them. They dropped the subject but stressed that he shouldn’t be making assumptions. With their tasks set before them, the group decided to deal with the kobolds first.