The Prairie Village Campaign: 4e

Episode 1-1: Falling in With Strangers
If Nuriel had been more than one day old, this would not have qualified as his best.

Entry 1 of Nuriel’s Journal:

Praise Bahamut! It all started with so much promise.

I felt the breeze in my hair, the wind in my face, the feeling of floating on air. It lasted for at least two precious seconds, and I savored them, being my first full two seconds of life. An eternity! Then suddenly, it was as if I had hit a wall of mud, which of course was appropriate, since I had fallen into a pile of mud. I’ve noticed lots of metaphors that work this way.

No longer was wind in my face and hair. No, instead it was a highly moistened mass of dirt (by which combination of liquids I do not know, and would prefer not to surmise). I was suddenly enveloped in a suffocatingly heavy dredge that coated my face, hair, and (I later found) had worked its way into every single link of my chainmail. My tabard was stained brown and yellow.

Wet, cold, and in more than a small amount of pain, I found myself next to another sort, much shorter than myself, covered in this same muck. I immediately assumed that he, too, had just landed. Apparently his fall was not as tall as mine, as he was basically unhurt except for a splitting headache. He offered me a healing potion, called “breakfast"—-a somewhat bitter but not entirely unenjoyable liquid that is probably derived from some kind of fermented wheat. What luck! I thought. I had landed next to a healer! I later discovered that this dwarf, named Cordivae, was not in fact a healer, and as a matter of course was wont to enjoy “breakfast” throughout most of his waking hours. Still, I can never forget his initial kindness to my travails, and by Bahamut’s scales, forever shall he be an ally. In some way, I can understand his disdain of taller folk. It’s surely not his fault that his ancestors stunted their own growth by spending so much time underground.

Another person I met today was named Kep. If Cordivae could have a keeper, it is this Halfling. He always seems to make sure that Cordivae punches the right person, or at the very least, passes out at the least used table. Kep checked on me periodically while I was cleaning the mud out of my armor. Kep strikes me as the type who knows more than he says, or at least, says more than he thinks. Clearly, a valuable ally. Another new meeting is Galanthal, an odd sort of nature worshiper who has spent most of his life in this place called Fallcrest. He seems to know everybody, and has an odd intuition about many folk whom I have not yet met. I don’t know his capabilities yet, but he does not strike me as dishonorable.

I also met a woman named Gloriawho acts as a paige to Douven Stahl. I think she is a student, or maybe some kind of intern, to Stahl’s school of study. She barely speaks to me, and I suspect that is because she had some kind of higher purpose in the span of her study. I should pay attention to this Eladrin in case she becomes important in the future.

Which brings me to Douven Stahl; now this is a man who knows how to talk. And at great length! Just before dinner, he began to explain why I was here. Actually, he explained why many of us were here…but more on that later, as I am running out of parchment. Tomorrow I shall purchase more and continue writing.

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Episode 1-2: A Few Errands In Town
Shopping in the rain...

Nuriel’s Journal, 2nd Entry: “But I digress…”

Praise Bahamut! One of the interns was kind enough to give me some parchment from Douven Stahl’s supply closets. It seems that Stahl has purchased far more paper than he and all of his interns could possibly use in five years. The scribe offered me twenty pages of parchment, insisting that the historian was just going to purchase more. I only had need for these two sheets, and so that was all I afforded to take. But I digress…back to the fascinating events of the evening.

While enjoying an evening supper (ironically, noble Cordivae continued to have breakfast) Dauven Stahl told us, in great detail, of the history of the Barony of Harkenwold. It seems that his studies have uncovered some documents involving some kind of fortress (called a Toll Fort) near the White River. I’ve never seen a white river before. I’ll bet it’s fascinating!

In any case, he told us of an old legend, a mythological “bandit king;” a fictionalized villain whose name parents would invoke to terrorize their children into staying out of trouble, doing their chores, eating their vegetables, or whatever other task that their whims required at the moment. I would point out that at times, being spontaneously spawned has distinct advantages, in that I was able to completely avoid this confusing and ridiculous behavioral manipulation. Furthermore, I have to wonder why more children have not challenged this so-called king to actually follow through on their parents’ threats. Given the choice between (for example) cleaning the mud out of my chainmail and doing battle with a bandit king, I believe I’d prefer fisticuffs. I digress again. Apologies…

It seems that this local fearmonger was actually based upon a real historical figure, at least according to the knowledgeable and verbose Dauven Stahl. He has uncovered some nugget that hints this “bandit king” was in fact some kind of nobleman, rumored to have built a vast amount of wealth and prosperity to the people under his charge. To my thinking, any man, regardless of station or birth, who leads people into wealth and prosperity certainly deserves a better title than “the Bandit King.” I would have expected he be called “the prosperity man,” or “lord of the coins“ or perhaps even “baron of entrepreneurs.” Alas, I have digressed again.

For whatever reason, this man’s fortune turned upside-down quickly, as his name was stricken from the history books and all that remains is the aforementioned (and somewhat humiliating) legend. It seems that Dauven Stahl believes the main base of this “Bandit King” may have in fact been the remains of an old Fortress near the present day town of Harken. Men within this fortress once stretched a chain across the river and charged river traffic a toll to proceed. Today, it lies in ruin. Dauven Stahl’s tale, a digression in my view, eventually reached this very important climactic point: Keller, the esteemed elder of the village of Harken, has called Dauven Stahl for help in dealing with present day Bandits, who seem to be operating out of this very same ruined fort. Dauven has requested that we uncover and return anything of historical significance; Keller, justifiably, is seeking aid for the people under his charge. Needless to say, such a request stirred deep emotions within me, and I feel strongly compelled to travel to the aid of these people. However, before we leave, Dauven Stahl requested some minor tasks from each of us.

Galanthal and Gloria were to travel to the local provisioners and purchase a number of items. Kepp was to deliver a letter to Amros Camroth, the wealthiest and meanest spirited man in town.
Galanthal was to visit Grundelmar, the high priest of Pelor.
I was to visit Nimozarin the Green at the Septarch’s tower. Before that, I decided to accompany Cordivae to make sure he didn’t hurt anyone or himself while I was at it.

And so, the following day, our fellowship split up to handle our various tasks. From what I can tell, the visit to the provisioners went basically according to plan: Gloria returned to Stahl’s estate with some extra rope and even more parchment.
Galanthal visited Grundelmar and arranged for several wayward children to enjoy a banquet of food at a local farmer’s home (what a benevolent soul he is!). Kepp apparently did deliver the letter after two attempts (he told me in passing of his experiences with the guards at the Camroth estate. Evidently the hired help is as rude as Camroth himself). I deposited Cordivae at another local brewpub, the Blue Moon Tavern. It was there that we met Kemara Brownbottle, yet another Halfling (they are all over Fallcrest). This fascinating individual actually crafts all different kinds of breakfasts for all different types of palates.

I left Cordivae to his sampling and visited the Septarch’s tower where I met Tobolar Quickfoot, still another Halfling who introduced himself as the Mage of the Septarch’s tower. Evidently, this esteemed position entails lofty duties such as straightening paperwork, dusting ancient shelves and tomes, and tending to the garden. Tobolar was somewhat upset that I had come to see the Septarch and not him, despite that I don’t know the first thing about dusting or gardening.

The Septarch was most fascinated with my personal history, brief as it was, and in particular with some of my equipment and possessions. He was intrigued with how battleworn some of my items were. I had noticed some wear and tear, but really hadn’t considered it abnormal; after all, I had fallen a fair distance. Nimozarin read much more deeply into this, and felt that my possessions told a deeper story. I am to report back to him from time to time to discuss various developments with him.

During my meeting with the Septarch, Galanthal stopped by, either to learn the secrets of Tobolar’s “barking spider” spell, or to accompany me with my visit. Perhaps both…What a friend! Galanthal also revealed to me a very important fact; “Breakfast” is not the curious healing potion that Cordivae contends it to be, but rather, it is a hearty meal in the morning which provides the body with energy it needs to work throughout the day. One day, I will have to point this mistake out to Cordivae. Surely it’s the translation from Dwarven that caused this simple rhetorical misunderstanding.

So much happened on this exciting day, I probably forgot important details. I could barely stand to rest, so I cleaned my tabard, got the last of yesterday’s mud out of my chainmail, and rested for tomorrow morning, when we would leave Fallcrest for the town of Harken. Be forewarned, evildoers of Harken! Justice is leaving Fallcrest and coming your direction, starting tomorrow!

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Episode 1-3: The Long Forgotten Road
"Well, aside from civilization, a common defense, commerce, prosperity, and decent roads, what did Nerath ever do for us?" ;)

Places, people and notable incidents:

Halfmoon Trading House

Selarund Halfmoon (proprietor of the Halfmoon Trading House)

Winterhaven

Manager of Wildthorn Manor

Rosebud

Daggerburg

“howler monkeys”

smerfberries

Cordivae falls in the river and hits his head on a rock while trying to “fish” with his warhammer (because the fish are “really tall.”)

Cordivae gets kicked by, and then punches, Rosebud.

Millerville

Cormack Anders (Mayor of Millerville) Thinks anything further than a few miles out of town is a world away. Insists on referring to Fallcrest as “Drophaven.”

Bethilda Anders (wife of Cormack Anders—like everyone else, she just calls him “Anders” most of the time)

Chester Anders the Millwright (Great-grandfather of Cormack Anders; designed and built the village mill)

Nanny of guard in Harken Village (knows the story of the Bandit King of Harken; may have dated Old Kellar in her youth, but broke up with him because he is “too pious.”)

Aunt Nonnie’s Place (best tavern in Harken Village)

Aunt Nonnie (proprietor of Aunt Nonnie’s Place)

Varrow Dell (farmer; attacked by bandits-currently under the care of Doctor Phila Nickle in Harken Village)

Doctor Phila Nickle (healer of Harken Village)

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Episode 1-4: Vaults of the Bandit King
What perils await below the ruins of the old fort on the White River?

Nuriel and Kep decide to retrieve Cordivae and Galanthal, before investigating the recent bandit attack on Varrow Dell’s farm.

Making their way back through town to the north gate, they visit briefly with the guard, and then walk a short distance from the village to where Coredivae sits sulking on a boulder, with Galanthal keeping him company. The bard and the invoker explain how the village is under threat from bandits, who seem to be operating out of the ruins of the old White River Toll Fort, a structure which dates back to the time of the Bandit King. The two prevail upon the Cordivae to join the rest of the party for dinner at Aunt Nonnie’s Place, and the dwarf reluctantly agrees.

On the way back through the gate, Pieter recognizes Cordivae from years past, and hails him, exclaiming that he never expected the dwarf to return. Pieter muses that the village elders may not be too excited by this turn of events, especially following “that incident with the goat.”

Pieter asks Cordivae if he has seen his father yet, and the dwarf threatens the guard with bodily harm, should he tell anyone that Coridvae is back in town. Not taking this seriously, Pieter enthusiastically describes how excited Helja will be to see her brother again. Cordivae responds by kicking Pieter in the crotch, and then stalking through the gate.

Nuriel, Galanthal,and Kep stay with Pieter until he stops retching. When he recovers, the guard doesn’t seem particularly surprised at Cordivae’s assault. It seems there may have been other crotch-kickings in the past…

Upon taking their leave at the front gate, the three catch up with the dwarf just as he arrives at Aunt Nonnie’s Place. When they walk inside, Cordivae is greeted like a long-lost son by the proprietor, who lavishes him with affection. She proclaims that she “never believed that story about the goat,” and offers Cordivae “your usual room at the top of the stairs.”

After fending off numerous offers of soup, the entire party—including Gloria, who had been sleeping in a booth at Aunt Nonnie’s Place—sets off to the south gate, to find the farm of Varrow Dell.

When they arrive at the southern entrance to the village, Cordivae is once again recognized—this time by Jonn. Like Pieter, Jonn is taken aback that the dwarf is showing his face in town “after what happened to Baron Stockmer’s goat…”

The adventurers tell Jonn that they are looking for the Dell farm, and the guard points it out, indicating some trees less than a mile out of town. Looking slyly at Cordivae, he asks if the dwarf is going to visit Jenni. Cordivae simply walks away without speaking to him.

Telling Jonn farewell, the rest of the party catches up with Cordivae, and the entire group makes their way down the road to the Dell farm.

When they arrive at the farmstead, no one is out-of-doors. As they cautiously make their way around the outside of the small house, however, they are accosted by Cassi Dell, who emerges from the front door wielding a broomstick. She accusing them of potentially being bandits themselves, and is quite irascible and difficult to converse with. Cassi is obviously still traumatized over the attack on her husband.

Eventually, the party is able to learn from Cassi that her husband was attacked a week ago, when he went into the barn to investigate a noise the family heard late at night. As Dell lay incapacitated on the floor of the barn, the bandits broke into the farmhouse, stealing anything of value while Cassi and the children cowered in their rooms. She is unable to describe the attackers as anything other than “short.” It was too dark, and she was too frightened to notice details.

Cassi’s unpleasant demeanor softens when Galanthal presents her with a gold piece, as a gift from Pelor, to make up for the loss she has suffered. She readily agrees when Gloria asks for permission to look at the barn.

The doors of the Dell barn still swing, broken and unlatched, in the light afternoon breeze. Inside, dust rises and swirls in the sunlight slanting in through the empty window-frames, as the adventurers walk through the straw that covers the floor. It is obvious that if there ever were any clues here, they have been erased by others who have come and gone over the past week.

When the party returns to town, Gloria, Cordivae and Kep go back to Aunt Nonnie’s Place, while Nuriel and Galanthal visit others who have suffered bandit attacks. Brandis the blacksmith, Jeff Fletcher the arrowsmith, and Wil the Tanner all tell similar stories—their businesses were ransacked in the dead of night, and their most valuable possessions taken. Galanthal gives each of the three a gold piece from Pelor, to take some of the sting out of this experience.

Wil is also concerned about his reputation, as he fell asleep while on volunteer guard duty at the south gate, and the bandits picked the gate’s lock while he slept. He takes pains to point out that the gate key was in his pouch, which lay beneath him as he slept—so the bandits could not have gotten the key from him without first waking him. While this does not make a lot of sense as an alibi, Wil seems so sincere in his protestations of innocence, that Nuriel and Galanthal move on with their investigation.

They return to Aunt Nonnie’s Place, and assemble for dinner with the rest of the party.

The serving girl Keira asks if they are waiting for Old Kellar, and says he should join them soon, as he is usually finishing up his prayers at the temple at this time.

Suddenly, the group hears Cordivae’s name shouted across the tavern, and the stocky form of Helja rushes from the front door to throw her arms around the warrior and cover him in kisses. Cordivae smiles and responds “Hey, sis.”

This happy reunion is soon interrupted, however, as talk of Old Kellar quickly drives Cordivae from the table to sulk in his room. He still refuses to greet his father.

Other notable people, places and events:

Old Kellar

Erick: Adventurer asked by Old Kellar to accompany the party to the White River Toll Fort, to seek out the bandits that have been raiding Harken Village

White River Toll Fort
Vaults of the Bandit King

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Episode 1-5: The Goblin Raiders of Harken
The chambers of the Bandit King hold more than just shadows of history...

The party searches the bodies of their goblin assailants—finding nothing but weapons, armor and clothing. Meanwhile, Gloria ties a rope to one of the dead lizard creatures, and trolls through the wide pool formed by the river, as it flows into the cave and back out again. If there is anything lurking in the water, it does not rise to her improvised bait.

Nuriel lights a torch, the group forms up, and they proceed down the corridor leading from the river cave into the vaults of the Bandit King. As they cannot see beyond the edge of the torchlight, Gloria tosses stones ahead, listening to them skitter down the dark hallway.

Soon, the group hears one of the stones strike a wall, and as they edge forward carefully, the flickering of the torch eventually reveals a turn in the corridor. Easing cautiously around the corner, ahead they see a chamber illuminated by firelight.

Moving down the new hallway and into the empty room, they find a table with a couple of rickety wooden chairs, a single lantern, and the remains of an interrupted card game.

As Gloria is picking up the playing cards, she notices Erick trying to furtively pocket an old, cracked leather pouch hanging on the back of one of the chairs. She confronts him about it, forcing him to open the pouch and reveal 40 Nerathi gold crowns. When Gloria tells him he should share the coins, Erick responds that she should share the cards. Although Cordivae suggests they all head back to town and hire Poxy Reita for a party, Gloria and Erick strike a deal, giving each member of the band eight playing cards and six pieces of gold. In addition, Erick is allowed to keep the four extra coins, bringing his total to 10 crowns.

Nuriel douses the lantern and attaches it to his pack. Gloria examines the walls of the room for markings, but finds nothing other than rough-cut stone blocks. The group decides to move on, with Gloria still throwing stones ahead of the party.

A corridor leads from the room, and deeper into the vaults. Some distance down this passage, the group encounters another turn, with light coming from beyond. Cordivae leans around the corner, and looks into a chamber filled with piles of debris, and lit by a free-standing, flaming, metal brazier on the other side of the room. Near the brazier stands a goblin in robes, bearing a staff, along with a pair of goblin thugs armed with short swords. The creatures stare back at Cordivae, somewhat perplexed to see the head of a dwarf poking around the corner.

Cordivae lets out a battle cry and—without consulting the rest of the group—charges directly into the center of the chamber, between two piles of debris. As he does so, other sword-bearing goblins, whom he did not see, move in from both sides of the doorway, and close on his position. In addition, a rustling from the trash piles lets Cordivae know that he has more company. Large, vicious-looking rats emerge from the pile on his left, while three or four huge, reddish brown beetles crawl out of the heap on his right. In no time, Cordivae is completely surrounded, cut off from his companions.

The goblin in the robes, at the back of the room, raises his staff and chants several esoteric-sounding phrases. A cloud of yellowish, foul-smelling smoke boils forth from the staff and almost completely obscures the room.

Cordivae is fighting for his life. The goblins attempt to cut him down with their swords, as the rats and beetles try to bite him from below. A small part of his mind—the part that is not completely absorbed with trying to stay alive—realizes the goblins must have trained both the rats and the beetles. The vermin only seem to be interested in biting him, not his assailants—which is most inconvenient.

As the dwarf’s companions move in to help, they find that the goblin spellcaster can guide the obscuring cloud at will, and he does so to envelope the new arrivals. Realizing his situation is untenable, Cordivae falls back, and forms-up with the rest of the party.

The beetles have a nasty surprise up their exoskeletons, however, and some of them immediately turn and cover the leading members of the group in gouts of flaming body fluid.

Nuriel strikes directly at the enemy spellcaster, flinging forth radiant orbs of energy that never-the-less fail to take him out of the fight.

Kep enters the fray, also attempting to engage the robed goblin. The spellcaster, recognizing him as the bard who earlier sang the battlesong of the Red Blade Clan, calls down curses upon him for being in league with the mortal enemies of his own tribe.

There ensues what can only be called a scrum, with the advantage shifting back-and-forth several times. Much to his surprise and consternation, Cordivae comes close to death on more than one occasion. The party is in real danger of being wiped out, when Galanthal rallies his companions with a prayer to Pelor. The adventurers feel fresh vigor flow into their limbs, and the resolve to prevail springs up anew in their hearts.

The tide of battle turns when Nuriel calls forth the benevolent protection of Bahamut, and there appears in the midst of the party an angel of fire, who does battle at Nuriel’s side.

Soon the rats, the beetles, the spellcaster, and all but two of the goblin swordsmen are dead. Both attempt to flee out the exit on the other side of the room. One makes it through the doors and into the hallway, pursued by the angel of fire, but is cut down by a well-placed arrow from Galanthal. The other, seeing the fate of his comrade, and blocked from the exit by the returning angel, falls upon his knees and throws his hands around the legs of Kep, offering his surrender and pleading for mercy.

Upon the resolution of the battle, Cordivae runs from the room, all the way back to the river cave, to clean his soiled breeches.

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Episode 1-6: Blades of the Bloodreavers, Part 1
Elements of discord...

While Cordivae cleans his soiled breeches in the river cave, the other members of the party attempt to interrogate the goblin prisoner, who has thrown himself upon the mercy of Kep, yammering at the bard fearfully in Goblin. The hapless creature reveals that he is a member of the Dark Claw Clan.

As Kep, Galanthal and Erick try to decide what to do with the captured enemy, the angel of fire—who still stands blocking the goblin’s retreat—turns to Nuriel and proclaims “My time here is done, Invoker of Bahamut. Call upon me, if ever you require my assistance in the future.” He vanishes from the chamber in a burst of flame.

Kep immediately looks to the goblin, who is now frightened nearly out of his wits. The creature shows no sign of attempting escape, even though the path to the door is now open.

As the rest of the party stares at the spot where the angel disappeared, Cordivae returns from the river at a dead run, charging the prisoner, with his warhammer held ready to strike.

Realizing Cordivae intends to slay the captive—who is still on his knees before Kep, pleading for mercy—Galanthal deftly fires an arrow between the legs of the dwarf, causing him to stumble over the flying shaft. This disrupts Cordivae’s aim, and he misses the flinching goblin.

Nuriel, taken aback that a member of his party would attempt to murder a helpless prisoner, strikes the warrior down with an orb of light, crying out “No. We shall do justice to our captives!.”

Cordivae falls, gravely wounded and unconscious, at the feet of Kep and the goblin.

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Episode 1-7: Blades of the Bloodreavers, Part 2
Enemies without. Enemies within?

The group completes the interrogation of Strink. Gloria threatens him with the “twisted bones” spell, if he does not protect the village of Harken. Strink agrees out of terror at what might happen to him if he does not…

Kep begins to sing, and the party hears the howl of a great wolf from farther within the complex.

The companions move on down the corridors, where they are ambushed by four hobgoblin warriors and two grey wolves. They slay their assailants, and then proceed to the next room, where they battle Krax, the hobgoblin warcaster, and a dire wolf. Krax attempts to push the adventurers into a pit in front of the statue of an unidentified demon with the head and right arm broken off.

The room contains a brass double door in the south wall. On each door is the bass-relief of a skull with eye sockets that glow pale blue. Engraved in the stone above the door are several lines written in Common, but spelled with the Abyssal script. Gloria translates the words:

We pay the price
Count not the cost
For he who rules
In Everlost

Put One Archfiend

When Nuriel attempts to open the door, lightning springs from the eye sockets of both skulls, flinging him across the room. Kep attempts to disarm the trap, ultimately failing, and barely avoids electrocution on two of occasions.

The party discerns that the last line of the engraving may be an anagram, and is eventually able to decipher it as:

“Prince of Undeath”

When Nuriel speaks these words, the blue glow in the eyes of the skulls fades, and the bolt securing the portal audibly slides aside.

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Episode 2-1: Beyond the Brass Door
Ancient and deadly mysteries lie farther in...

The party proceeds through the brass doors to an antechamber, which is decorated in tattered and mostly undecipherable tapestries. The skeletons of four men-at-arms, all of whom were apparently killed violently long ago, lie at various places on the floor.

At the far end are a pair of formerly ornate mahogany doors, which were chopped, burnt and pitted by arrows in whatever battle took place here.

The next chamber is obviously a library or workshop of some sort. A couple of small book cases are located on the wall to the left, near a small round table and two chairs. A raised level runs along the back and right-hand side of the room. directly ahead, a set of steps lead up to to the raised level. Midway up the steps is a narrow platform on which a bier has been placed. The bier is the resting place of a dust-covered human form. Further up the steps, on the raised part of the room, is an alter bearing a brass chalice and a large book. To the right, the raised level contains several bookshelves, much larger than the two on the lower level.

An dried and emaciated corpse has been pinned to one of these bookshelves with a spear.

When the party examines the book, they find that it is open to a ritual for reanimating the dead. Suddenly, the door of the room slams shut, the temperature drops, and a malevolent force manifests itself, affecting the adventurers in different ways. Gloria hears, in her mind, the words “Fools, you shall do my bidding…” Kep and Galanthal are compelled to spill the goblet upon the alter. As Kep does so, the corpse on the bier bestirs itself.

Notable Events:

  • Battled the Bandit King and his minions
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Episode 2-2: The Heroes of Harken Village
Returning in triumph

Notable Events:

  • Burned the bodies of the bandit king and his minions
  • Battled stirges in the ruins of the toll fort
  • Returned to Harken Village
  • Old Kellar was overjoyed to hear how his son Cordivae comported himself during the adventure
  • Erick departs the group
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Episode 2-3: The Caravan Job
Here's how it works. First I do the job. Then I get paid.

Notable Events:

  • Amarth recruited the group to guard Traveus’ caravan on the journey to Fallcrest
  • Received a hero’s farewell on the way out of Harken Village
  • Discovered a totem-pole on the way out of town, indicating that the village is guarded by Sarc “for the Lady Gloria”
  • Had to pay a toll to pass over the bridge in Millerville
  • Attached by goblins once the caravan entered the Moon Hills; a chest was stolen from one of the wagons
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