After the events of episodes 1 and 2, our party has been resting up in Woodcrest and spending most of their time in the village pub. They’re already getting used to being referred to as heroes by the townsfolk and have spent a couple of weeks making the most of the free accommodation.
One morning Anya, the gruff town guard, knocks on the door to the party’s room. She announces that a raven has arrived carrying a message addressed to “The Saviours of Woodcrest”. Jason reads the letter to the group, it is from Lord Protector Xander who wishes to meet with the party about a job – word of their exploits has travelled. The party know that Lord Protector Xander is standing in for the king, who is sick.
Rather than walking the two and a half days to Ponterin, the party opts to wait for the next caravan to pass through Woodcrest. When it arrives, the townspeople are overjoyed – it’s been almost a month since the last supplies came through and they’re living on scraps. Jason approaches the caravan leader, Charlie Farnsworth, to secure passage. After a few awkward minutes of caravan compliments, Salzar butts in and offers to protect the caravan.
The party members board the wagons and set off down the valley out of Woodcrest. Four hours in, the Reft Sea is visible on the horizon and the travellers skirt along the coast and spend a quiet night camping in a woodland glade. The second day of travel is bumpy but uneventful until the party finally reach the small village of Bridgefoot.
The village of Bridgefoot is overshadowed by an enormous natural stone arch which spans the Reft Sea inlet into the Inner Reft. Ponterin sits atop the arch and is only an hour or so away.
While the caravan pauses to trade timbers and resin for fish, the party decide to take a short break and explore the town. While Jason and Enna head for the bar, Wrenn and Salzar make a bee-line for the temple in search of something to read.
Entering the temple, it’s clear that it’s not very frequently used, and is devoid of other people. It takes no time for the pair of scholars to locate an extensive book collection and both Salzar and Wrenn “rent” some books.
Meanwhile, in the bar, there’s a hushed silence as Jason and Enna enter – village folk aren’t used to seeing a Dragonborn. They’re not threatened, but the obvious interest is a bit discomforting.
Before they can get to the bar, a human monk approaches Jason and introduces himself as Helge Rusk. The enthusiastic Helge wastes no time and asks if he can join the adventuring party. Jason tells Helge that he’ll need to prove himself and points to a Half Orc sitting in the corner. “Fight him”, Jason says.
The barman, who’s clearly been listening, shouts “No fighting!” and puts paid to the initiation ceremony. Still hoping to join, Helge regales Enna with the story of how he discovered a medicinal herb; it’s incredibly boring but, as a ranger, Enna’s interest is piqued.
At this point, Wrenn and Salzar enter the bar and wander over to the rest of the party. Realising he’s got yet more people to impress, Helge blurts “I can do a backflip for you!”. Without waiting he does a sweet backflip across the pub; Jason thinks it’s pretty cool. Enna, ever the show-off, performs an even better backflip.
Over in the corner of the bar, the Half Orc monk that was pointed at earlier has been watching the group. Sti’vun approaches the barman, who is holding his head in his hands, and orders a round of drinks for “The Heroes of Woodcrest”.
After carrying the drinks over, Sti’vun initates a conversation with the party. Salzar, not the most racially tolerant of the group, tastes his wine and then throws it over Sti’vun. The barman kicks Salzar out and warns the rest that there’ll be no trouble.
With Salzar gone, Jason offers the two monks an unpaid internship with the party. Enna, who deeply hates Orcs, doesn’t want to take on a Half Orc but will on the condition that she can kill him with her bare hands if he causes trouble. Enna’s comments (and the fact he’s still dripping with wine) is enough for Sti’vun and he walks away.
It takes a diplomatic Wrenn to convince Sti’vun to give the group another chance. He explains that not everyone in the party is as horribly racist and that he’s always being called a Halfling (he’s a Gnome). Sti’vun decides to give them a chance, but isn’t going to take much shit.
Everyone finishes their drinks and heads back towards the caravan. Helge is very excited to be part of an adventuring party, and Sti’vun starts to play his dulcimer as the horses and wagons pull away.
After two more hours of travel, the party reaches the western gate of Ponterin. The caravan heads to the stables just outside the gate and Salzar speaks to Charlie about payment. In typical Salzar style, he tries to get payment for the two monks that were picked up on the way, but the caravan leader has been in this business for too long – he doesn’t budge.
The party leaves the caravan and heads to the gate, where the guards wave them through. The city of Ponterin is cobbled and the buildings are rickety; the floors of many of the buildings look like they were added on later as the city grew and space became more scarce. Children play in the streets and merchants go about their business.
Not knowing a lot about Lord Protector Xander, the group decide to question some locals on the way to the palace. As they pass through the busy market square, Enna approaches a beautiful elf woman who’s selling makeup. After asking what the deal with Xander is, the woman replies “He’s a fair arbiter of the king’s laws, seems reasonable”.
Salzar suggests talking to multiple sources, clearly distrusting elven judgement. Sti’vun suggests approaching some of the children but then thinks better of it. Salzar suggests that Wrenn might speak to some children, being on their level. Wrenn gives Salzar the finger.
Annoyed, Wrenn looks around for a criminal element. He spots a dogfight down an alleyway off of the market but chickens out and doesn’t want to get involved. He mentions this to Jason but he’s like “Nah”.
The party decides that they’re wasting time and to just head to the palace, there are banners hanging from the walls with the coat of arms: a crown. Approaching the gatehouse and presenting their letter from Xander, the portcullis is raised and our adventurers enter the royal palace.
A second row of guards past the gatehouse open heavy doors and allow the party into the great hall, at the end of which sits the Lord Protector. His hair and beard are grey, but he’s still wearing tough leather armour; he greets the adventurers and invites them to sit with him.
After some introductions, Jason brings up the letter that the group received. After a caveat that the following information should never leave this room, Xander reveals that the Crown Princess is missing. She was part of a delegation to Askor, but her carriage never reached the city. The same people responsible for the attacks on Woodcrest have kidnapped her. Enna asks why he trusts the party, and Xander replies that the competence that was shown at Woodcrest was commendable.
Enna asks if the pricess had a boyfriend, or if there was a ransom note; the answer to both is “no”. Xander provides more detail: the princess was kidnapped three weeks ago, and with the king being sick this is a disaster for the monarchy. He mentions that they’ve had no luck using magic to locate the princess, which could mean that she’s a great distance away.
After a nod from Jason, Wrenn hands over the letter that they found in the goblin stronghold back in Woodcrest. The Lord Protector is troubled, by the image of a broken crown and supposes that somebody wants to break apart the monarchy.
Salzar insults Xander by saying that he has no knowledge of the arcane, but as they meet eyes Salzar goes uncharacteristically quiet. This doesn’t escape the attention of the rest of the group.
Finally talking business, Jason asks what kind of reward could be expected. Xander explains that there will be a royal reward, and that everybody would be richly compensated. Sti’vun asks if there will be an advance, and manages to persuade the Lord Protector to part with 50 gold pieces.
Enna makes Wrenn the butt of another short joke by asking if Xander can provide 5 horses and a pony for the party, but the stables are overstretched.
The party leave the palace and the city of Ponterin via the east gate, after stopping off at an apothecary to buy some healing supplies. They make quick time, travelling across coastal moorland until they reach the town of Erinport. Deciding that their mission is too important to stop, the group push on northward.
A couple more hours of travel and the light begins to fade, the sun dipping below the Frostback Mountains. The travellers make camp just off the road and settle down for the night, with Wrenn and Sti’vun taking first watch. The night is quiet until during the second watch, where Jason and Enna spot a gnoll and swarms of rats heading towards the camp. There’s just enough time to wake everyone and get into formation before they are set upon.
Finally We Get To Kill Something
Helge immediately throws one of his darts into the darkness but misses entirely, Wrenn then draws his bow and fires an arrow into the thick hide of the gnoll. Salzar hexes the gnoll and casts lightning into the darkness but it hits nothing as far as he can tell.
While running towards the party the gnoll launches its spear at Enna, lodging it deftly in her shoulder. The rats surrounding the gnoll swarm past it and Jason breathes fire over them as they approach. This thins the swarm slightly but the rest quickly reach the front line of the party.
Enraged by the spear through her shoulder, Enna draws her swords and skewers several rats as they swarm around the group. Sti’vun follows suit and slices at the rats with his sword as they try to climb up him; leaping forwards he crushes more with his forearm. Helge joins his fellow monk, stabbing at rats as they pass and then enthusiastically stamping on any that he missed.
Wrenn, still at the back, fires another arrow at the gnoll but misjudges the shot and misses. Jason also flounders, slashing at rats with his longsword, hitting nothing but dirt.
Salzar casts lightning again at the gnoll, this time hitting it. The gnoll’s face blisters under the heat and it roars horribly in pain. It runs forwards, almost blind with rage, and bites Jason. Luckily Jason’s armour saves him from being gored by the gnoll’s dagger-like teeth, though he’s still covered in gnoll slobber.
The rats surrounding also bite him but can’t penetrate his armour either. Sti’vun is not so lucky: in his monk robes, the rats easily climb up his legs gnawing and chewing.
Enna, noticing that the gnoll is now close, takes revenge for the spear. She dashes forwards and thrusts both of her swords into the gnoll’s sides, tearing away flesh. The gnoll is seriously wounded but still just standing. Sti’vun and Helge run to aid Enna in taking down the gnoll. Sti’vun slashes at the gnoll with his sword which bounces off the thick hide, but lands a punch squarely on its hyena-like maw. Helge, spotting an opening, plunges his sword into the gnoll’s throat; as it collapses to the floor, Helge’s victory dance crushes more rats underfoot.
Wrenn, suddenly having an idea, drops his bow and crawls across the ground to speak with the rats and see if he can convince them to leave. Sadly realising that the rats are beyond reasoning, he skewers several with his daggers.
In the heat of battle, the party then go apeshit at the rats. Salzar barbecues some with lightning; Enna stabs at the ground around her, building up rat-kebabs on her dual swords; Sti’vun squishes rats left right and center with his bare fists; Helge stabs the rats closest to him, then spin-kicks several more into the distance; Wrenn crawls around on the floor between his comrades’ feet, picking off rats with his daggers.
With only two more rats left, Jason raises his longsword impressively, lining up his shot. Just before he can bring his sword down, Salzar casts lightning one final time and fries them all.
Adrenaline pumping, the party settle back down. They spend the rest of the night peacefully.
The party wakes up bright and early the next morning feeling surprisingly rested. They head back onto the north road and after 2 and a half hours they reach a bridge over a narrow river. An hour after that the group reaches the edge of a forest, a couple more hours later they’re walking alongside a larger river.
Enna and Helge, who are scouting ahead, see the shape of a carriage far in the distance and off of the path. They can see that it’s sitting low, perhaps missing its wheels, and there’s no horse in sight. Enna sees what looks like a thin trail of smoke drifting up from the same area.
Gathering together the party, they slowly make their way towards the carriage, suspiciously searching for traps. The carriage is very ornately decorated with gold and silver leaf; Enna notices the royal crest on the side of it and the party assumes that it’s the one that the princess was travelling in.
One of the doors of the carriage is hanging off, and it’s clearly been ripped open by something large; Jason peers inside but there’s nothing there.
Finally thinking he’s out of range of Xander’s influence, Salzar reveals that the Lord Protector is psychic and spoke to him while the party was discussing the missing. This could mean that he’s not telling them everything.
The party remember that from afar they saw smoke around the caravan, but can no longer see it. This confuses them, and Salzar wanders back to check if the smoke is still there when viewed from afar – it is. Wrenn determines that if it were an illusion then it would require a very powerful magic user to cast it.
Jason decides that he wants to move the carriage to see if there’s anything underneath. Together, the group heave the broken vehicle aside and beneath it find a very old and ornate sword. After a little examination Wrenn says that the sword is Ancient Odreïan style, and you might associate it with Askor, but there’s nothing magical about it.
Jason takes the sword, stowing it safely in his pack.