He has a glass staff

Having destroyed the goblin nest and learnt some disturbing facts our heroes traveled onward to Phandalin, where fame, glory – and ale – awaited them. In addition to delivering the supplies they were contractually obliged to deliver, they had also rescued a cargo from the goblins, which they hoped to gain a reward for delivering to Phandalin, and they also had to escort Sildar Hallwinter to the town. He had not only been escorting Grundar Rockseeker to the town, but had been seeking a wizard called Iarno who seemed to have gone missing after arriving at the town. Once he had recovered and set himself up in Phandalin the PCs expected to have more opportunities to work for him and whatever shady cause he truly represented, so they wanted to get to the town fast and settle in.

Phandalin is a new town, a small number of houses built on the ruins of a much older town. The older town was ringed by a strong defensive wall that must have been destroyed in an earlier battle, that also razed the old town. The now town stood defenseless inside the ring of those old walls, crumbled and cast down, its houses built of poorly slung-together naked wood cast up on the foundations of older, grander buildings. The roads through town were a mixture of mud paths and scattered cobblestones, last remnants of the old town. It hunched against the drizzle of the fag end of the Storm Season, its inhabitants and the buildings themselves taking the last breath in earnest before the winter set in and froze their bones. It had a ramshackle, desperate air to it, as if the whole community had been slung together in the hope that none of the marauding orc tribes of the mountains would notice it, and its residents might have a few seasons in which to profit from trapping and mining before the whole shoddy enterprise fell apart in an orgy of blood and slaughter.

Sadly, it hadn’t lasted that long. The PCs soon discovered that a gang of bandits had set up in town, camped in an old manor on a rise on the edge of town, and were terrorizing all the residents. The script was the same they had seen before in their travels: terrified locals, a blacksmith who used to be a great warrior but had taken up a pacifist religion and refused to fight back, a terrified and collaborationist mayor. The usual. Raymond deCantrus was able to cite several sociological studies familiar with the various psychological and socio-cultural issues underlying such phenomena, until a grim glance from Tyge shut him up. As always in these scripts they planned to ignore the issue and get on with their business, but they were ambushed in the street and forced to kill three of the stupid bandits in quick succession. The fourth rendered up the information they needed before they dragged him to the townmaster, cast him into the town hall’s one cell, threatened a tiny payment out of the townmaster, and set off to destroy the entire stupid band.

First they traveled to the Sleeping Giant, a seedy taproom on the eastern edge of town. Their informant amongst the dead guards had, upon witnessing Tyge’s savagery, told them the entire workings of the redcloaks’ guard operations, which were quite straightforward: at any one time four guards (now dead) were patrolling town, four were on call at the Sleeping Giant, and four were resting in the manor. Besides a few on guard duty with prisoners, this was their whole complement. In about four hours the guard would change at the Sleeping Giant, so the PCs decided to go there, kill the redcloaks in the bar, wait, kill the four who came, and then march into the manor unopposed. A few small details made this plan slightly less workable than it sounded – in particular the gang of bugbears who had been sent by the Black Widow to help the bandits, and the weird monster with one eye that stood guard in the basement of the manor.

Whatever. Killing the four guards in the Sleeping Giant proved remarkably easy. They just walked in and set to work with a grim and brutal disregard for the furniture. As they stood cleaning their weapons the barman tried to run out the back but Mouse easily caught him, and with a minimal amount of threats he admitted he had been running away to warn the redcloaks of the trap. Satisfied, the PCs made sure he stayed in the bar and set up their trap. Sure enough a few hours later the next four guards walked in and died, and their pathway had been cleared out. They tossed the barman a few coins to repair his shoddy furniture and set off for the manor.

The entire aboveground structure of the manor was ruined, obviously destroyed by raiders a long time ago and abandoned. In amongst its vine-tangled and rainswept ruins they found a door leading down to the cellars, where they knew the remnants of the redcloaks (and the Bugbears, and the weird eye-beast) lived. They marched down into a large square room with a huge cistern in the middle, full of pure water. They were checking the cistern and arguing about the correct door to take when three redcloaks burst out of one of those doors to attack them. Perhaps their informant hadn’t been entirely honest with them – but he would pay. They slaughtered their three attackers and cleaned their weapons, while Mouse dragged a small bag of treasures out of the cistern, obviously someone’s escape kit, containing clean clothes and a potion of invisibility.

Well, whoever had hidden that there wasn’t going to escape now. They braced themselves, and headed in …

 

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