We rejoin our party running through the forests outside the town of Pandolin. Fleeing from the old manor and its terrifying BugBears infestation.
Her legs ached under the strain of running through the forest with GlassStaff slung over her shoulder. With every step his head whacked against her back painfully, but they kept running and running.
“Hold On!” yelled Salazar with the last of her breath. “I think he’s stirring!”
“Well then smack him,” replied MeatEater. “We can’t have him disappearing again. Who knows what the wizard is capable of — he could turn us into frogs!”
Salazar dropped GlassStaff to the ground none-too-gently, knocking him unconscious again. Nyx, unslinging her rope, walked over to the once formidable foe and began to bind his wrists and ankles.
“Don’t forget the gag,” warned MeatEater.
As the party caught their breath and composure, StormPath noticed Salazar leaning against a tree, deep in thought. “Salazar, my friend, what’s on your mind?” StormPath inquired.
“I think this… this… I don’t know. This all is too much for me, taking captives and skirting bugbears. It was never my intention to kill so wantonly. I think it’s time I rejoined my family. I’ll help you to the inn tonight, but from there we must part ways.”
The party overheard this and lamented the idea of parting with their companion just as their bonds of friendship were growing stronger.
“If that’s truly your wish, I hope the best for you and your adventures. But know your presence shall be dearly missed,” said StormPath.
“Aye, to Salazar!” Nyx cheered, and took a swig from her hunting horn. Each Adventurer drank deep from the horn in Salazar’s name and presented their own well-wishes. But it was a brief moment, as there was work to be done, and the group soon was on their way again into town.
As they walked the path, nearing the farm of Karp who had so strangely attacked them, Po heard the sounds of angry and confused townsfolk. Investigating he saw an agitated crowd around the mayor who appeared to be placating the people. Though none of them seems armed, there was a palpable tension in the air.
“Now just hold up! We don’t know what happened here! There could be a logical explanation. There’s nothing to worry about, just leave this all to me,” pleaded the Major. Who was answered with yells and jeers.
Po stopped, halting the party in their tracks, and turned around. “Perhaps we should discuss what to do next. It appears the town has found the wounded RedBrands and are stirring for an explanation.”
MeatEater — ever the cautious rogue — asked “Could we avoid a confrontation? We’re strangers in this town and we don’t know how they’d react to news of our violence against the RedBrands, especially with a captive in tow. I vote we skirt the crowd and consult Sildar in the Inn.”
The others agreed. For while the RedBrands weren’t well-loved in town would their band be treated as heroes or more troublemakers? Thus they continued down the path toward town, towing along their gagged prisoner.
However they didn’t get very far before once again the party was stopped short. They were just passing the Apothecary’s garden, ready to turn West into the heart of the town.
“Hey, what’s the hang up,” Nyx asked. “There’s Hoppy Bastard’s Folly ale at the Inn and I can’t wait to get another goblet.”
“Hush, or your folly will be the peril of us all. Can you not see the RedBrands over there?” chided Po.
“Nyeh, whatever, we look like them with these itchy cloaks and all. Let’s just pretend we’re on an errand and be on with it. They ain’t got half a brain between the three of ‘em,” replied Nyx.
At that moment they heard a moan, silencing them all. Distracted by the rising mob and the new threat of these lounging RedBrands no one had been keeping tabs on GlassStaff, who took that very unfortunate moment to stir.
“Uuuugh,” GlassStaff groaned, causing the whole party to stiffen. GlassStaff lifted his head and saw the Red Cloaks on the Inn porch. “Help me you fools!” he slurred.
Quickly and effectively StormPath gave him a sure smack on the temple with her quarterstaff, and he fell silent again. But by then the Red Brands had been watching, and saw the assault.
“What’s going on over there? What’re you doing to the boss?” asked a Red Brand with a particularly knobby nose.
MeatEater was quickest of the party and replied with a shrug, “We’re just taking him to the, the… apothecary! He’s feeling a bit, uh, lightheaded and asked us to get him to some healing.” The Red Brands paused, and looked at each other warily. Then the adventurers heard the sure twang of swords being drawn. “Eeep!” squealed MeatEater, looking around for cover. She found it behind the corner of the Apothecary, and prepared her own weapons for the confrontation.
Nyx thought fast and yelled over toward MeatEater, “Ey, what’re you hiding for? They’re with us!” She then turned to address the approaching Red Brands. “Guys, guys, calm down. Do you think GlassStaff would have trusted us with all this,” hefting one of the pouches they had pilfered from GlassStaffs chambers earlier, “unless he really needed some serious healing?”
But the RedBrands continued to approach, unwavering, with menacing looks on their faces. They reached the road when they noticed a small brown rat scurrying from GlassStaff towards the apothecary. At this they paused, and reconsidered. GlassStaff’s familiar was well known amongst the crew, though these particular guards had never encountered it. They knew not that the GlassStaffs true rat was white as pearl with sharp blue eyes that pierced you with their intelligence. But they saw this calm brown rat, seemingly familiar with the party before them, and finally they believed the fib and backed down.
One tall guard spoke, “Well, do you need some help then? We’ve had nothing to do for days and — “
Po interjected hastily, “No. No, sir we do not need your assistance. You should continue to man your post like a guard with much honor.”
The tall guard squinted at Po, taken aback by the formality of his manner. “Suit yourself,” he replied. And they walked back to the porch to continue their afternoon of drinking and wagering. Nyx, seeing them persuaded, terminated her illusion subtly.
“Good thing we kept these cloaks on,” whispered StormPath. “I don’t think we’re in any condition for another confrontation. Come, let’s hurry on our way before they change their mind.”
The back storage room was cramped with barrels and boxes. GlassStaff was leaned against a study crate, with Po and MeatEater behind him each with a knife to his throat. The innkeeper promised Sildar an hour of uninterrupted use, and left with a considerable jingle in his step. Sildar moved to remove GlassStaff’s gag, but was stopped by MeatEater.
“What if he disappears again?” MeatEater worried. “Can he even do that without his staff?”
“We should be fine, just keep your knife there where he can feel it. And don’t hesitate to press it deeper if he doesn’t behave. Even Wizards need time to prepare their craft,” said Sildar. Then he unknotted the gag and let it fall to the floor.
“Pft! Finally! That thing is simply unsanitary. All this for offering you a drink? What ungrateful houseguests you are,” spat GlassStaff.
With that the interrogation began and with each passing question the adventurers feared the great GlassStaff less and less. They learned of that GlassStaff was sent to Phandolin by the Lords’ Alliance to protect the small town. But he went astray from his mission when he met a Dark Drow. This Drow convinced him to instead start the Red Brands who began terrorizing the town, but never explained his rationale. GlassStaff said that the Drow could be found in Cragmaw castle. Finally the adventurers ran out of questions for the wily wizard, and left him to the Sildar’s mercy. Sildar was displeased with GlassStaff’s divergence from the Lords’ Alliance’s will. His anger shook GlassStaff, who begged for forgiveness as the adventurers left.
Inside the inn was bustling with townfolk. There was plenty of gossip to be heard about the Red Brands sudden defeat. Everyone seemed to have a different tale of what happened, and of course each disparaged the veracity of the other stories. As the ale flowed the stories grew louder and more far fetched. The adventurers sat at a table near the back door, when they noticed a stranger by the bar who was clearly separate from the gossiping locals.
The innkeeper approached and said, “It seems you have pleased Sildar greatly. He has paid for your room and board for the night already. What can I get you?”
“I fear I won’t be staying the evening,” replied Salazar. “I must return home. But if you will bring us some bread and stew, and a round of good ale so I may drink to the success of my companions!”
“Of course! Of course! Well then I suppose I can tell that gentleman we have a room after all,” he said, nodding towards the older stranger.
“What do you know of him?” asked MeatEater, who was always wary of new people.
“Nothing much, just that he arrived in town today and is seeking shelter. Seems the quiet type. Let me go get that stew warmed,” replied the innkeeper.
The stew was goat, which pleased Nyx greatly. The adventurers took turns recounting their favorite moments with Salazar. Po spoke of Salazar’s first battle against the goblins and how she overcame her nerves and fear to fight side-by-side with Po. Nyx told of the decrepit tunnel passage and how different Salazar looked, with smears of dirt across her usually pristine forehead, as she came to Nyx’s rescue against the wolf. StormPath recounted how straight and true Salazar’s spears flew towards the Goblins just outside their haven and slew them handily. And finally MeatEater recounted how Salazar caught her when she almost fell into a chasm while fighting the creepy psychic under the manor. When there were no more words to say, Salazar bid them farewell, and left the now much emptied inn. As she walked down the dirt street she looked back to the inn and smiled, she knew that one day she would adventure with her companions again.