On The Road
A couple of days’ travel southeast of Silverwilde, an unlikely group of adventurers were escorting a wagonload of provisions to the frontier settlement of Tumbledale. A party of strangers just a few days prior, they were brought together by a mutual acquaintance, Gundren Rockseeker.
Aurora Aldus knew Gundren’s brother Nundro Rockseeker, who was a mason at her father’s court. The third daughter of King Emperor Roland Aldus III, Aurora was fated to be little more than a bargaining chip in her family’s political machinations. Not wanting to be married away to an old geezer with a favorable plot of land (and having already fallen in love with the heir to a rival empire), she ran away at the first chance she got. Heading west as she ran from her father’s soldiers, she ultimately arrived in Silverwilde. At the same time Gundren was hiring an escort for his provisions, Aurora was looking for work and safe passage towards the country of her lover. Wary of getting her hands dirty with mercenary work, but eager to be on the move once more, she hesitantly agreed.
Adeline High-Hill knew Gundren through her father’s affairs. Ever the consummate business man, Gundren had offered her father a generous share of the profits if he would allow the Rockseeker brothers to mine his land. Lord High-Hill agreed, but on certain conditions. He put in place many rules and laws to protect the miners, and ensure that the new influx of wealth would directly benefit his people, and not the wealthy lords and nobles of distant lands. However, most of these laws were repealed upon his passing, when Adeline’s brother rose to be Lord of High-Hill. After a messy battle for control over the people of her land, Adeline was forced to flee High-Hill and her brother’s wroth. She lived off the land for a time, before ending up in Silverwilde to sell some pelts and purchase supplies. When Gundren found her in the marketplace and heard her tale of exile, he offered to hire Adeline on as an escort for a wagon of mining supplies he was sending south. With few other feasible alternatives, and being in need of some spare gold, she agreed.
Torbjorn Hearthside spent the majority of the last few years in isolation, perfecting his smithing skills and searching for rare ingredients necessary to make even stronger weapons. While he wasn’t able to locate his most desired materials, word of his skills eventually reached Gundren Rockseeker’s ear. He commissioned a new battleaxe from Torbjorn and, upon completion, Gundren offered Torbjorn a job escorting his wagon of mining supplies south. Recognizing the opportunity to earn a favor from someone who specialized in extracting minerals and resources from the ground, Torbjorn grudgingly agreed.
Rask Underbough was the only member of the party to actually grow up in Silverwilde. A native of Alturis, his family died when he was still very young, and he grew up in an orphanage that was more of a work camp than a childcare facility. He ran away at thirteen and survived by keeping out of sight, only emerging when it was necessary to pinch some food or coin. One particular instance found Rask in over his head with the former owner of a newly acquired coin purse, but Gundren Rockseeker came upon the dispute and was able to step in, diffusing the situation and helping Rask out of a jam. Gundren, seeing that the resourceful halfling needed an important job to focus his energies toward (as well as a little legitimately earned coin), offered him a job escorting a wagon of provisions south. Rask was reluctant, uneasy about leaving behind the city he called home, but the promise of gold was too much to pass up, and he eventually agreed.
About half a day’s ride from Tumbledale, the party rounded a bend in the road and came upon two horses, dead and riddled with arrows, in the middle of the path. Adeline, who was scouting ahead, halted the wagon and returned to the other members to inform them of what she saw. Upon hearing the news, Rask ran forward to investigate, approaching the horses alone. He was able to determine that the horses definitely belonged to Gundren and his knightly escort, Sildar Hallwinter, before a volley of arrows whizzed past his head. The attacks were close, but ultimately unsucessful, and Rask’s yelp of surprise alerted the group to the ambush.
Adeline dashed up an escarpment at the edge of the road and into the woods, while Torbjorn spurred the oxen forward, charging the spot in the road where Rask stood paralyzed. The sudden acceleration and general commotion woke Aurora from her nap in the back of the wagon.
As she rushed through the brush, Adeline heard a rustling up ahead at the edge of the road and instinctively fired upon the noise with her halfling longbow. Despite not being able to see the target, her arrow found it’s mark, spearing a goblin through the side of the head and killing it instantly.
Another two arrows narrowly missed Rask while a, now singular, goblin rushed out of the treeline towards him. He drew his shortsword and met the goblin in melee combat, but neither one was able to strike a blow against the other.
Aurora, quite sick of all this goblin nonsense, stood up in the back of the wagon and was able to spot the two goblins hiding in the woods. She cast sleep, knocking all three goblins, as well as Rask, unconscious.
Torbjorn parked the wagon on top of the goblin in the middle of the road, crushing it and covering Rask in goblin blood, before hopping down and restraining the two remaining goblins against a tree with some rope.
After a minute, the spell wore off and everyone woke up. Rask, upon finding himself covered in gore, vomited a little. Torbjorn interrogated the remaining goblins, but wasn’t able to get anywhere with just words and intimidation tactics. He attempted to show the goblins he was serious by chopping off one of their hands, but without cauterization or a tourniquet of some kind the goblin instantly bled out.
The final goblin, terrified of being crushed or maimed to death, agreed to show the party where Gundren and Sildar were taken: Cragmaw Hideout. The adventurers secured the cart of provisions on the side of the road, tied up the goblin, and made him lead the way down a hidden path in the forest.
An Unexpected Arrival
After narrowly avoiding one trap, Torbjorn slammed the goblin against a tree and made it clear that any other hazards would be immediately brought to his attention. This time the goblin was sufficiently cowed, and when the group came across a hidden pit in the path he stopped and instructed them to walk around.
Roughly five miles from the site of the ambush, the party exited the woods into a small clearing, and the goblin informed them that a cave on their left was the location of the hideout.
As they took in their surroundings and contemplated what to do next, they heard an excited voice come from behind them.
“Ooh, this is fun!” it said, and they turned to find Dominique Pendragon, a half-elf bard, eagerly clutching his lute and with a smile upon his face…