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The Fall of Plaguestone (1/3)

A caravan with a group of new adventurers find themselves traveling through the small community of Plaguestone. About half an hour before arriving, the party is attacked by a pack of wolves. After the battle Hanako discovers the pack leader is a heavily mutated caustic wolf. Orion in turn confirms the mutation is not magical in nature. The startled horses have sustained several minor injuries, and one of the carts got it's wheels stuck in the mud. With some effort and some help of the party (leaving several members fatigued) the caravan goes onward and reaches Etran's Folly.

Going past the large stone that gave the town it's austere nickname the group arrives at the Feedmill and is invited in by it's barkeep, Delma Fulst. The taproom is almost empty save for a single patron, a hulk of a man who seems utterly disinterested in anything but his meal. Some of the party members decide to walk through the town for a bit, coming past the Drunk Shepards Path and noticing the town's primary foodsource as they pass it's turnip fields. Others visit the Feedmills kitchen and meet with it's cook and the goblin waiter Phinnick, who are preparing the food. By talking to the farmers, Xuttil figures out several key events in the town's history that explain it's dire state: the Goblinblood wars, the plague that befell Etran's Folly, and some drama that happened years ago involving a "Chymist Witch" named Sylwith.

A mysterious murder

Later that evening, when the group gathers for a meal Bort Bargith promised them after helping the caravan, a barfight breaks out due to a clumsy waiter spilling beer on farmer Eollom. Dodging chairs and mugs of ale, the party manages to subdue the farmers nonlethally and end the fight in short order. Delma returns with local Sherrif Rolth Garley in tow, who proceeds to give the farmers a stern reprimand. As the party sits down to resume their meal, Bort suddenly seems to suffocate. They do their best to help the dwarf but to no avail, and Bort Bargith dies from suffocation. Having made an attempt to save Bort, the party is not suspect to the murder and Rolth is clearly in over his head, farmer disputes and occasional drunken brawls being the height of crime in the small community. He asks the party to look into the murder. After some deliberation, the primary suspects becomes Phinnick and the hulking man, who's name they later learn to be Hallod by talking to Delma.

The party attempts to find Phinnick, but doesn't seem to be able to track him down. However, during their search of the premises they find a small, discarded vial in the grass, which Xuttil confirms to have the same fragrance as the bowl of porridge from which Bort ate his dessert. Having seen Hallod carry such alchemical vials with a very good Perception check earlier, the party decides to visit Hallod. Asking around they are pointed to the home near the Dead Willow, which acts as a landmark of sorts. Arriving at the collapsed building, they search the ruins but in his impatience Faakt triggers a spear launcher trap that was jury-rigged to the front door. Luckily the shot misses. Finding a hatch leading underground, they traverse the crawlspace beneath the home and find it is also trapped. Marking the trap with chalk, the party goes onward and end up in a storage space of some sort with yet another hatch leading down, and a broken down door. Aimar tries to open the door only for it to loudly fall of it's rusted hinges and reveal an entirely collapsed space. Continuing through the rusty hatch, the party finds itself in a stone hallway leading to Hallod's hideout.

Hallod's Hideout

Entering through Hallod's kennel the party finds his personal quarters after defeating several guard dogs. In the larder, the party finds a locked and trapped chest. Unfortunately, Hanako only manages to safely disable two of three locks, resulting in a spine laced with poison to pierce her skin. After treating their wounds, the party makes immediate haste to chase Hallow down the tunnel leading into an underground cavern, where there are besieged by a giant lightning serpent. The battle becomes dire when Aimar went down, but the combination of Orion's powerful spell and one of Hanako's well placed shots finally put down the beast.

Venturing forth through the cave system, the party finally confronts Hallod. Having slain the criminal addict, they immediately inform Rolth Garley that his town has developed a drug problem under his incompetent care. Meanwhile the party is approached by Dirna, who requests they keep their eyes out for some rosemary to create a salve for the horse's infected wounds. The party obliges, with Aimar remembering having seen some rosemary bushes on his earlier stroll through the town. Unfortunately, a grizzly bear slumbers nearby under a tree that's losing it's leafs a few months too early. Even more unfortunate, Aimar manages to grab some of the rosemary undetected, but wakes the bear on his return trip. A fight breaks out and Aimar is subsequently mauled by the bear! The party manages to drive it off though, and continues their way to the drop point indicated on Hallod's map, which unfortunately turns out the be empty.

Apprehending Phinnick

On their way back, the party comes across Phinnick and manages to capture him. Informing Phinnick that Hallod is no more, the goblin reluctantly agrees to be brought into custody. After dropping him off at Rolth's office, the party returns to the feedmill. Speaking with Tamli, they put together the records they found in Hallod's chest and Bort's ledger, confirming that Bort had been supplying his own killer with alchemical reagents. After all this, the party decides to check up on Targen Fulst, who tells them about the town's history after allmost having a PTSD breakdown as Faakt attempts to sit on the octogenarian lap (triggering his Goblinblood wars PTDS). To make matters worse, the party is attacked by a pack of Bloodseekers, which they promtly and efficiently dispatch. They also pick up on Tamli's offer to bring two swords to an aspiring adventurer, Aimar charming his way through a conversation with her strict mother.

Resolution

Having defeated Hallod and apprehended Phinnck, the party has completed their chase of the primary suspects. Realizing that Bort's death was orchestrated by Vilree, the daughter of Sylwith, and having exhausted any leads that might have shed some light on her current whereabouts, the party spends some downtime in Etran's Folley.

© Frans van Berendonk 2020 - 2024