The Prairie Village Campaign: 4e

Episode 4-1: A Very Strange Acquaintence

"...and the lost shall be found."

Adventuring Party (Level 4)
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Nuriel: Deva Invoker of Bahamut
Galanthal: Elven Ranger/Cleric of Pelor
Amarth: Human Paladin/Fey-Pact Warlock
Sten: Gnome Bard
Gertrude: Goliath Battlemind
Mike Surekill: Mul Knight

  • Having dispatched the last of the their enemies at the excavation site, the adventures turn to the task of extracting Douven Stahl from the pile of debris.
  • Gertrude discovers that the reason they could not pull Douven out during the battle was that he is chained to an iron spike driven into the ground. She quickly frees him.
  • The companions revive the scholar. He greets them with joy—especially Sten, whom he has not seen for a while.
  • They question the older man about his captors. Douven explains that the individuals he encountered at Wrafton’s told him they had found the tomb of the Drax Arcanus. This turned out to be untrue.
  • The “tomb” is actually a decoy. The “dragon bones” buried in the tomb are really the bones of ordinary farm animals such as horses and cows.
  • Something else, however, was buried with the false dragon bones—a golden skull. Douven indicates that this is what his captors were after.
  • Nuriel shows Douven the “Ritualia Draconis Chryonica.” His mentor becomes highly excited and asks Sten for some paper. He begins pouring through the book, making notes.
  • Douven is so focused on the book that Gertrude has to strap him to her back so the party can travel. The scholar seems more-or-less oblivious to this state of affairs, and continues reading and making notes.
  • The adventures head back in the direction of Winterhaven.
  • As they are making their way through the wooded hills, a red cardinal appears and circles the group, then circles Amarth’s head, before settling on Amarth’s shoulder. It chatters at them, then takes off, flies to a branch at the side of the trail, and looks back expectantly.
  • The other members of the party ask Amarth if he recognizes the bird. He tells them it shows up from time-to-time.
  • The group chooses to ignore the cardinal and continue toward Winterhaven.
  • The bird returns, flies around the group chattering in an animated fashion, and then heads back in the same direction as before.
  • The companions stay the course towards the village.
  • The cardinal comes back again, this time chattering angrily, and flies off once more in the previous direction.
  • Finally, the adventurers stop and discuss following the cardinal. Sten remembers folk tales of a cardinal serving as the herald of Old Man Winter—a personage who can be harsh and unyielding, but is not outright evil. The group eventually agrees to pursue the bird into the woods.
  • They make their way in the direction the cardinal flew. Soon they see it ahead of them. It leads them some distance from their previous path before they see a red fox watching them from the edge of a clearing. The fox seems to have a mysterious gleam in its eye. It turns and slips into the forest.
  • The party chooses to follow the fox. The cardinal falls back and flies with them as they pursue the elusive creature, which seems to stay just out of reach ahead of them through the trees.
  • Eventually the fox leads them to a large boulder sitting at the top of a hill. It turns to look at the group, then slips through a wide crack in the boulder and over the edge of the hill.
  • The party follows through the crack. They find a game trail on the other side, leading down and around the wooded hill. Ahead of them, the fox is looking back from a bend in the trail. Then it turns and slips around the corner.
  • The companions pursue the fox. It always seems to stay one step ahead of them, stealing away as they approach.
  • At the bottom of the hill the trail opens into a clearing containing an old woodpile and a dilapidated cabin. Vines with bright orange flowers grow atop the pile of rotting logs. The red fox sits amongst the fiery blossoms. The adventures are certain it is grinning at them.
  • The fox leaps lightly off the pile and slips past the partially open door of the ramshackle hut. * Gertrude approaches the shack. Before she can reach it, a gnome with unkempt, bright red hair clambers onto the roof—as if he has just ascended from inside or behind the cabin.
  • The gnome sits down on the edge of the roof, legs swinging freely in the air. He looks at the group with a mischievous gleam in his eye. He tells them they appear to be lost, and that he takes a great interest in lost things.
  • The adventures converse with this strange creature. He readily admits that he comes from the Feywild. He seems to know a great deal about the companions—even claiming to have once dated Sten’s grandmother.
  • He also seems to have a very flexible concept of time, paying little heed to how long things take and sometimes mixing references to past and future.
  • Gertrude asks if he is a god. This seems to entertain him quite a bit.
  • Sten recognizes their new acquaintance from legends as the Trinket Lord, an archfey who is the patron of lost items.
  • The gnome claims his name is Tuxil. He tells the companions that he has been asked to track them down by an “associate” who finds the colder months more congenial than the Spring weather they are currently enjoying.
  • Tuxil goes on to explain that the adventurers are oblivious to what is really going on around them. He talks to them of the Dawn War, when the deities battled the primordials—some of whom became what the characters know as demons.
  • While the gods will fight against one another, some on the side of good and some on the side of evil, all banded together to face the threat of the primordials.
  • To this day one of the greatest fears of the gods is a demon usurping divine power.
  • The demon Prince of Undeath (of whom some of the adventures have already heard) wishes to usurp the power of the Raven Queen, the patron of death. Deities of all stripes would join forces to keep this from happening.
  • The Raven Queen is also the patron of Winter, so Tuxil’s “associate” has a vested interest in the situation.
  • Tuxil agreed to find the companions once his “associate” told him that the followers of the demon prince were collecting the legendary Golden Skulls. He tells the group that there are four Golden Skulls, each containing a demon who was once a powerful servant of the Prince of Undeath. These four servants became too strong and threatened to overthrow the prince, so he imprisoned their essences within the skulls. Each demon held power in a separate sphere—war, famine, pestilence and death.
  • Tuxil is an avid collector of lost treasures. He has many precious items in his home. If the adventurers will agree to retrieve the Golden Skulls and deliver them to Tuxil, he will bargin with them for other items from his collection in trade.
  • The party asks the gnome if the Skulls will be safe in his care. He replies that they will be far safer with him than if they were to keep them. He is used to dealing with such artifacts.
  • Amarth asks Tuxil if this is an “official request.” Tuxil explains that should the demon prince succeed in displacing the Raven Queen, “other interested parties” could usurp the dominion of Winter. His “associate” would like to keep that from happening.
  • The group agrees to retrieve the Golden Skulls. Tuxil does a backwards somersault off the rear of the hut and disappears. A few seconds later, they see the fox bounding through the woods up the side of the hill behind the shack. At the peak of the hill the fox turns, sits, looks at them with a grin, slips over the top, and vanishes.
  • The adventures resume their trek towards Winterhaven.
  • Night falls as they travel. Suddenly, a voice hails them through the darkness and trees ahead. A short man in armor, with a battle axe slung across his back, advances into their circle of torchlight. He greets them and introduces himself as Mike Surekill, a knight of Therund and a companion of Prince Etheran. The prince has sent him to find the companions.
  • The adventurers greet Mike in return, and they all agree to continue back to the village.
  • As they move through the forest, Galanthal senses something pacing them off to one side through the trees. He’s not certain what it is, but gets the feeling it is some sort of beast. He tells his companions about it, but does not pursue the creature—whatever it is.
  • As they reach the outskirts of the village, their mysterious shadow does not follow.
  • The party retires to the common room at Wrafton’s to eat, drink and discuss their next move.
  • They notice a short individual in a leather trench coat sitting next to the fire smoking a pipe, watching them from under the wide brim of his hat.
  • The adventurers ask their server about this person and learn that he is a halfling named Nim. He is an eccentric resident of Winterhaven who lives in the old windmill on the hill.
  • They eventually maneuver themselves into a introduction to Nim. As he approaches their table, they can see that his hat covers a head of disheveled white hair.
  • Nim tells the group that his master is concerned about recent events in and around Winterhaven. He has learned of their mission for Lord Padraig, and Nim wants to assist in their investigation.
  • The halfling reveals that the strange happenings are centered on the old keep near the village. He proclaims that the companions will need help if they are to tackle the keep.
  • Nim claims to know of an “item” that will greatly aid the adventurers if and when they assault the keep—but he needs assistance in securing it.
  • Mike Surekill asks who is Nim’s master. The halfling says he simply refers to him as “the Master.”
  • The knight then inquires how the party can know that Nim’s master won’t use the item the halfling seeks against the people of Winterhaven once it is recovered and the immediate threat eliminated.
  • Nim says that the Master holds his own counsel, and the halfling cannot speak for him.
  • Sten has heard rumors of the owner of the old windmill. He knows that Lord Padraig consults with him at times, although whoever he is, he tends to be fairly stand-offish.
  • The companions consult amongst themselves and finally agree to assist Nim in recovering the item in question. He tells them to meet him at breakfast the next morning.
  • The adventurers turn in for the night. The next day they get up and head downstairs to eat and to rendezvous with Nim.
  • The halfling joins them as they are finishing breakfast. When it is clear the group is ready to leave, he leads them out of Wrafton’s and through the gates of Winterhaven to the cemetery.
  • He strides straight into the large mausoleum and deftly manipulates the diagram embedded in the far wall, opening the door to the Hall of the Raven Queen.
  • Within the chamber, Nim explains that the dormant warforged standing on the other side of the room can be awakened by a challenge of single combat. If the warforged loses, he will serve the victor in a single quest, so long as it does not conflict with the tenants of the Raven Queen. If the warforged wins, the loser agrees to serve Raven Queen.
  • Amarth, Gertrude and Mike Surekill debate who is the best choice to challenge the Champion. Mike decides to represent the party in the ritual battle.
  • Nim crosses the chamber, stands before the unmoving construct, and announces that one has come to challenge the Champion of the Raven Queen.
  • The warforged moves from its alcove, strides to the center of the chamber, points toward Mike Surekill with the tip of its sword, and then assumes a stance ready for combat.
  • Mike steps forward to engage the Champion.

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