Machinations of the Slave Lords!

Shadows of Thundertree, Episode 1

Ill Met Near Phandalin

Shadows of Thundertree

Ill Met Near Phandalin

Our heroes make their way home from Phandalin, with the body of Gah Ri in tow. Each day, Sten performs clerical magic to maintain the body, lest it rot on the two-week journey home. After nearly two months away, the group are road-weary and looking forward to a break.

By the third day on the road, however, they all begin to feel uneasy. The forest is too quiet, seems somehow darker than usual, and the air feels heavy and oppressive. Sten becomes convinced that someone—or something—is tracking them in the night, but it never shows its face. The feeling gets stronger as they go, and everyone is on edge.

By day six, the PCs have begun a forced march to cover more ground, not stopping to make camp until well into the night. As they prepare to step off the road to make camp, they hear the sounds of battle somewhere in the near distance, followed by a booming thunderclap. Minutes later, a dragonborn dressed in traveler’s clothes comes staggering into the road, covered in gashes and cuts, a couple of small crossbow bolts sticking out of him.

“Drow,” he says. “We should run.”

At that moment, his drow pursuers emerge into the road and the battle is joined. Our heroes emerge victorious, with Faervel pursuing the lone survivor into the woods, while Gurtak leaps to his aid, neatly beheading the drow.

Searching the bodies, the heroes discover two things upon the body of the lead drow. First, he wears the symbol of Tharizdun, the Elder Elemental Eye :

Symbol_of_Tharizdun.png

Second, he bears a scroll case. Punty tears it open, suffering a lightning shock from the magical traps securing the message, before the group reads the contents. Upon realizing that Harmun Kost and Agatha are villains that the group encountered on their first adventure together, and let live, Punty mutters, “what a douche,” and the group vows to discover what’s going on and put an end to this nasty bit of unfinished business.

After healing their new friend and making introductions, the group camps for the night and the next day continue their trip. As they will be approaching Phandalin from the south and passing within a few hours of it, the group decide to stop in and check on the Rockseeker clan at the Mines of Phandelver. Upon hearing that the Lost Mines and the Forge of Spells are no longer lost, Nav’ron is eager to see the sight for himself.

So the heroes continue on. The closer they get to Phandalin, the more their sense of doom and foreboding grows, as if something intangible but dark and evil is spreading across the Menowood.

Three days out from the mines, just as the sky is fading from the blue-black of midnight to the gray of pre-dawn, the air is split by a horrific scream of agony, followed by a quiet chanting in the distance. Sten, who was sitting watch, arouses his companions and they send Faervel ahead to scout while they make their way behind them.

The first thing the group comes across are the bodies of three dead centaurs, each of which has been torn to shreds by what looks like a combination of weapons and the claws of great beasts. Gurtak notes what appear to be warg tracks on the ground, but far larger than any warg he’s ever seen, and marked with vicious claws that aren’t normally seen with these creatures.

The chanting, however, still goes on ahead and the group continues on.

Faervel makes his way to a clearing where he sees six cultists chanting around six dead and mutilated victims, arranged around a bonfire. He pulls his bow, takes aim and sticks one of the two priests leading the ritual. Unfortunately, the priest does not fall, and while Faervel is exceptionally stealthy, his shot gives his position away to his victim, who points and shouts an incantation, freezing the rogue where he stands.

The cultists close in…

The heroes arrive on the scene just in time to save their roguish companion from a fairly grisly demise, making short work of the cultists. Their sorrow and rage builds as they realize that they know every one of the six victims—two men, two women and two children—as townsfolk of Phandalin. Nav’ron and Sten recognize the ritual as one to gather power, though for what dark purpose they cannot discern.

Gathering their wits about them, the group press on, determined to reach home as soon as possible. The rest of their journey goes without challenge, but when they reach the Mines, they are shocked to find them closed, the doorway concealed so that none can find it.

Gurtak assures the group that the dwarves would never simply abandon Phandalin, and that there would be secret ways into and out of the mine. The group turns north, pressing on to get home and discover what horrors have occurred in their absence due to the machinations of this dark mage and his undead lover…

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