When the adventurers got back to the Three Crown Inn. Wella came out to greet them. She beamed at the basket of apples and immediately went to work on making some pies. Lyle, now a little less fidgety, welcomed back and ask if there was anything he could assist them with. When someone asked him for maps of the region he was more than happy to oblige being a cartographer in his spare time. It was then Malbert suggested that they get some rest. The day had been a long one after all.
They were all awakened by the sound of a wooden spoon hitting a metal pot signaling grub was on. A nice bowl of beef stew and a few slices of apple pie later they said their farewells and went outside. Unfortunately bad luck continues, because they discovered their horses and cart were gone, fresh human footprints in the dirt. They continued on foot down the trade road until a kindly dwarf merchant offered to give them a lift to the next town. He introduced himself as Fargrim, he came from Ironfast and sold military quality weaponry. He mentioned in passing to Malbert that a town called in Hammerfast was experiencing trouble with bandits on the trade roads to the north.
A few days of traveling lead the adventurers to Datshun, a small town in Gadarn located on Lake Solitude. The town was established about fifty years ago the same time the main trade road was built. In that time it has gathered a lot of business from merchants and farmers on their way to the neighboring cities and towns.
“Pardon?” Iminye and Antoinette approached some local townsmen. The young ladies asked the farmers if they’ve ever heard of a wise, powerful religious figure in the area. The younger ones could not recall, but an older woman did mention there was a miracle worker that had past through town many years ago. She cured the sick and dying and went off on her merry way. This peaked their curiosity because the archmage mentioned a male, not a female.
They then went to a local weapon smith to sell their acquired weapons and to use the coin to purchase horses. To their dismay there weren’t many horses or carts in the stables, because it was the harvesting season. They were able to get a cart with a broken wheel, which they took to the woodworker to be repaired and a mare. The woodworker said the wheel would be repaired in the morning.
Zeetryder decided to travel to the nearby Lake Solitude while Arktor and Malber headed to the Empty Fish Tavern which was part of the Inn of the Vomiting Dragon. Bored with the current surroundings, Malbert asked for the strongest drink in the joint. The Hog Spit smelled like something you’d use to clean a outhouse, but the strength of the dark beverage was just to his liking.
His Goliath comrade placed a few coins on the table challenging the dwarf fighter to a friendly drinking competition. Malbert smirked, surely his cast iron stomach would prove useful in this. The members of the tavern cheered and urged in the two competitors. Zeetryder, who was making his way back from the lake, heard commotion similar to the sounds of the bar fights he used to break up in the Broken Isles. Several shots of Skull Splitters later, Arktor was looking a little unsteady. He raised his hand to signal his defeat and Malbert’s victory. Zeetryder grinned and placed a few coin of his own onto the table. Thus the drinking competition dwarf versus dwarf began. Malbert already having a few in him was feeling a little dizzy after the fourth drink. Being honorable Zeetryder set down his glass and declared this competition a tie.
Morning came and Iminye informed her comrades that she had found a few leads and she’d catch up to them later. Trusting the young woman can take care of herself the other fours headed towards Wingfall with their fixed up cart. The sun shone high above their heads at noon. Coming towards them from the opposite direction a battered man in chain mail came hobbling towards them. Immediately the adventurers halted their horse and jumped off the cart to help the man.
“Dear sir, who are you? What happened?” Antoinette inquired as Malbert helped him on his feet.
“I’m Faulk,” The man gasped, “Bandits…They captured my entourage and held me captive. I escaped from them when they weren’t paying attention.”
“Probably the same bandits who took our horses,” Malbert muttered. The fighter looked hard at the seemingly beaten man. His hard breathing looked exaggerated.
“Could you please bring me to that stream yonder?” Faulk asked pleadingly.
“Sure,” Malbert glanced over to the stream and from behind a rock a saw a glint of steel. Wasting no time, he grabbed the handle of his axe and bashed Faulk over the head.
Blood gushed forth from the newly made head wound. Faulk howled in pain, cursing as his knees buckled. Orcs with spears and undead sprang from behind large boulders.
“Kill them all!” Faulk scrambled to get up, blooding trailed behind him as he headed for the orcs.
With the element of surprised lost it wasn’t too difficult to dispatch the oncoming enemies. Faulk was the first to fall, but not before he was able to tactically command his minions into strategical positions.
When the battle was finally won, the adventurers found a few valuables on the bodies of the fallen. A particular object of interest was a letter found on Faulk.
Archmage Callon just sent his hires out of Vox. They should be in your area in a week and a half if my priest and the bandits do not get to them first. Pour this elixir onto the corpses to reanimate them. They should be sufficient along with the orcs to overtake the adventurers. Take the stone. They must be stopped before they reach Wingfall! Do not fail me.
This begged the question of course, if the adventurers didn’t tell anyone about the stone they carry, then what’s is going on?
The road was dusty, gusts of wind occasionally picked up the dirt creating a miniature tornado before settling the particles into new places on the ground. Malbert, Arktor, and Zeetryder kept their weapons close as Antoinette held the reins of the horse, though she was more than a little alert herself.
At this point they all jumped only to find a farmer one a brown horse with empty bags, “Where you all headed?”
“Wingfall,” Antoinette responded with smile.
“Nice place,” The farmer replied, “I’m Peter Woodro.”
The adventurers introduced themselves individually, but he seemed to be more interested in Antoinette. He asked if he could travel with them, safety in numbers and the company would be nice. In exchange he’d treat them to a meal and a warm bed for his farm was about thirty miles from their current position. With some hesitation they all agreed. They found out he was a local historian and he began to tell them local folktales such as the siren of Lake Solitude.
The sun began to dip below the horizon as they reached a small white farmhouse submersed in a field of corn. Just as the group reached the house, a small figure burst from the front door and sprinted into the field. A woman followed behind.
“Thief!” She cried.
The party sprinted off into the dense cornfield. Arktor dashed ahead using his height to his advantage to pinpoint the thief’s location. Antoinette her own legs could only carry her so far shouted after the thief that they wouldn’t hurt her. Unable to use his own height for an advantage Zeetryder briefly observes his surroundings, noting a broken corn leaf, and led this friends towards the west. The thief looked back over her shoulder, the gruff looking dwarfs spewing threats only fueled her adrenaline. She came to a screeching halt however at the base of a cliff and there was no way or time to escape.
Donna sniffled as the shadows of the adventurers came closer. A streak a black tore through the bushes and landed in front of the little girl just as Arktor reached her. Blackie growled and barked nearly snapping off his hand when he got close to Donna.
“You’re not going to hurt me, are you?” The little girl latched herself to the black bloodhound.
Donna listened to the gnome as she proceeded to tell her they wouldn’t if she returned what she stole. With the promise of food and no beatings she handed them the silverware she stole from Peter’s wife.
“She thinks I’d make a good rogue?” Donna thought, “If I could be one that’d be so cool!”
Reluctantly she accompanied them back to the farmhouse. Disappointed with who the thief really was he told them he couldn’t house another person right now, but he did tell them there was an orphanage in Wingfall if they were willing to allow the girl to travel with them. They agreed and planned to set forth in the morning.
In the morning after a hearty breakfast they loaded themselves into the cart with little Donna and Blackie in tow and set forth. Peter had told them that Wingfall was a two day journey. There was rest stop called the Inn of the Popping Kernel after the fork in the road. He told them to tell Grampy, Woodro sent them. They finally said their farewells.
Donna poked her head out of the cart once in a while to look at the environment. She never really wandered too far from the Woodro farmlands after her parents died. With curiosity she gazed at the passing merchants and farmers their own wagons and carts laden with goods. When she was not looking at the merchants she tried to get the adventurers to tell her what the neighboring countries were like. Antoinette was more than happy to oblige to her wishes.
As they approached the fork in the road Peter mentioned Donna saw a race she had never encountered before. She briefly heard Zeetryder say half-orc as the humanoid waved them to stop. Donna looked back and forth at the conversing parties. As soon as the word Wingfall fell from someone’s lips, the half-orc hunter attacked. The battle cry was heard, other half-orcs accompanied with gigantic black furred wolves leaped from the shrubbery. Antoinette order Donna to stay hidden in the back of the cart with Blackie. The little girl pouted wanting to see more of the action. She peeked through a knothole on the side of the cart trying to catch a glimpse of the action.
The closest half-orc near the horse began with battle axe drawn clearly with the intention to hack Malbert. The other two loaded longbows and tried to pick off anyone they could. Blood was drawn and the wolves were the first to fall. During the course of the battle Malbert caught sight of a clay imp-like creature. The abomination was observing the fray with great interest, but most of the observing was on the hunters. The half-orc closest to the forest followed Malbert’s gaze. With a mighty cry the hunter charged for the imp, decapitating it in two blows.
The hunter that initiated the fight raised his hands in surrender and threw down his weapons gesturing that the others do the same.
“Please…listen,” The hunter said in broken Common.
Testing the waters Arktor spoke a few kind words in Giant to the half-orcs’ relief. The hunter proceeded to tell the adventurers that a few days ago he came home to find his place ram-shackled, his wife and children gone. A note was left in their place ordering the hunters to kill the party and if they declined the family would die.
The adventurers offered to help the hunters, but they declined. It was their problem, the hunters said and they should go complete whatever they needed to do.
Following the left path in the fork in the road they stumbled upon the Inn of the Popping Kernel as night fell. They quickly spoke to Grampy and acquired rooms for the night, but not before making sure their horse was secure in the barn.
In the morning they continued ever vigilant now. Weapons were held just as a precaution. At noon they came upon a wide open plain with livestock idly grazing. There on a grassy knoll laid Wingfall. The town was surrounded by a ten foot stone barrier with several tall building tops peaking from the inside. Two guards both wearing chain mail, thick metal skullcaps, and carrying spears halted them. They asked them to state their business. The adventurers merely said that they were there to see a holy person of Pelor. Satisfied with this answer they were allowed in.
They found themselves in a marketplace bustling with activity. The first order of business was to find the orphanage. Donna kept close to them, but not in fear on the contrary the new place excited her. Where the adventurers went adventure usually followed and that suited her just fine. It was an easy task to find the orphanage. First of all it was very hard to miss being the largest structure in town taking up several blocks. Molded into the building were symbols most religious in nature so it could’ve easily been mistaken for an abbey if it weren’t for the children playing in the courtyard. A blond haired gnome, who had seen them enter through the gate approached them.
“Hello, I’m Pip! Welcome to the Cyan Sparrow Orphanage, how can I help you today?” She smiled widely flashing her pearly whites.
Antoinette gently pushed Donna forward and told her fellow gnome about the child. Pip looked at Donna with black pupil-less eyes. Content with what she saw she told the adventurers that she must be inspected by the matron. the gnome dashed into the building and minutes later brought out a middle aged woman. She had black peppered gray bird nest-like hair and the bird on her shoulder to match.
“I’m Lek Nohk, matron here and this is my faithful companion Tweet!” The odd woman poked the bird’s wing, “Say hi Tweet!” The bird remained still. “Fine be that way you little tuff of feathers!”
“Why hello there!” Lek bent down to get a closer, but Blackie had other ideas and lunged towards the matron, “Oh puppy!” The dog looked bewildered confused by the matron’s actions, but he allowed her to pet him.
Lek thanked them for bring Donna to the orphanage and offered them a place to stay for their remaining time in Wingfall. They accepted and asked about the local temple. Immediately Lek started ranting about Holly Pegason, the high priestess, how she was a pompous bitch who didn’t know when to ask for help when she clearly needs it. Regardless she directed them to the temple, looking at the group curiously as they left the gates.
Tall steeples and stained glass windows signaled their arrival to the temple of Pelor. The grand hall they entered was lined with stone statues of deities and rows of pews. Briefly they paid their respects to the gods. A young boy dressed in white robes went towards them. He introduced himself as Alex. When they inquired about Pegason he led them down a long hallway to her office door.
Alex knocked on the oak door softly, “My lady, you have visitors.”
“Bring them in dear.”
Alex opened the doors for them and took his leave. When the party stepped inside they were greeted by the sight of an old thing woman with wisp snow white hair and thin spectacles.
“I’m Holly Pegason, the high priestess, how may be of service to you today?”
The adventurers revealed to her the stone and their mission. Confidently she told them that she would be able to identify it in a few days. Antoinette warned her that bandits and other brigands had been after the rock, but Holly assured her that even though she is old she is much tougher than she looks. After all she used to be an adventurer herself back in the day.
The moon was high in the sky when the party went back to the orphanage after completing several errands. Several guards darted past them making their way to the temple. When the adventurers entered the temple office that found it in disarray. Papers and books were strewn across the floor and on a nearby sofa Holly laid unconscious.
The guards they had seen enter the temple earlier were questioning Alex. Apparently while everyone was asleep someone broke in and he heard a crash he found Holly on the floor. Unsatisfied with the interrogation, Antoinette used healing word on Holly reviving her. The old woman revealed that in fact the stone was stolen by a black robed figure. The guards told the party that usually in a situationsuch as this they’d use dogs to find the culprit. Earlier in the day the local wizard found sleep powder in the dog food, but it was too late and now none of the animals will awaken.
“Donna’s mutt,” Malbert mumbled, “I bet he could track.”
Back to the orphanage they went. Donna excited that Blackie would go on an adventure allowed them to use the hound. They handed the leash to Arktor, since the dog seem the tolerate him the most.
Moments later back at the temple, Blackie began to eagerly sniffle around the office. He came to the window and took off dragging Arktor with him. The barbarian could barely hold onto the leash. They went through the woods snapping branches and trampling shrubbery. The other adventurers were hot on their heels. The dog stopped abruptly near a clearing. There at the mouth of a cave stood several decrepit zombies and two large undead abominations. Their stench of rotting meat wafted in the air. Iminye with her impeccable timing offered to take the dog back sure that her comrades could handle things.
Malbert, Zeetryder, and Arktor met the zombies head on. With their colossal arms the large hulking undead slammed their meaty fists into the warriors. Antoinette thinking fast use her divine powers to stun the undead and pushed them into the cave. Moments later chilling undead zombies crawled out of the mouth. The new zombies claws chilled flesh whenever they slashed. Even with the added enemies the party dispatched the undead.