Salt and Stone

Of Water and Wizards

As you planned your next steps over breakfast at the Grey Goat, Kriv and Tasslehoff ventured downstairs with a business proposal. Knowing the danger of the region but still desiring to complete their research, they offered to hire you as guards for a day of sample-collecting. After some discussion, it was decided that Athrendil, Chadwick, and Sloane would accompany the scholars, while Dex and Gustav would return to Merchant’s Refuge and obtain payment for the giant-slaying from Petra.

Like the farmers, Petra was surprised to learn about the presence of a giant in the region — giants had not been sighted this far from the mountains in centuries. She decided to send a trusted agent to confirm the giant’s death, promising you a bonus if your story bore out. In the meantime, she gave you vouchers for equipment upgrades as payment for resolving the trouble with the farmers.

With the matter of payment settled, Petra asked you to complete a small task for her. Traditionally, the wizards of the University of Refuge had maintained the town’s magical water treatment facility, but the current headmaster of the wizard college, Xanthos the Bright, was declining to continue the tradition. Noting the resentment between herself and Xanthos, Petra asked you to attempt to negotiate with him.

Dex and Gustav went to Xanthos’s office, where they found a petulant, self-absorbed fire genasi who was clearly averse to doing any work that was not immediately beneficial to himself. Using flattery, you successfully convinced him that you were his fans and suggested that he start a training program so that the townspeople could learn to maintain the water treatment facility. Agreeing with your plan, but deciding that he didn’t want to go to the trouble of drafting the decree or the program curriculum personally, Xanthos gave you a signed piece of blank letterhead to take to his second, Azzakh Dhyrktelonis.

Outside Xanthos’s office, you encountered Rudy, who was arriving for a meeting and was perplexed by your presence at the headmaster’s office. You relayed the full story about the water treatment facility, and Rudy expressed frigid anger at Xanthos’s efforts to shirk his duties, noting that the “maintenance” involved was actually the strengthening of the facility’s enchantments — work that could not be done by the townsfolk. He agreed that you should take the letterhead to Azzakh, but asked you to have Azzakh subvert Xanthos’s wishes instead. Rudy encouraged you to name-drop him in the conversation.

Concerned about making an enemy of Xanthos, but ultimately agreeing with Rudy, Dex and Gustav relayed his message — and the letterhead — to Azzakh. Azzakh was thrilled at the opportunity to put the screws on Xanthos, and immediately planned to used the letterhead to establish the care of the facility as a permanent honor bestowed upon the wizard college. Satisfied, he suggested you tell Petra that for any future issues, she should go “straight to the top” — i.e., to the grandmaster of the University.

Having completed Petra’s errand and relayed Azzakh’s message, you returned to your office, where messages had been posted to your bulletin board. Among these was a letter for Gustav, requesting that he return to his former crime family for a job. Knowing there’d be trouble if he refused, Gustav said his goodbyes and hired passage out of the city, leaving Dex to wait for the return of their other friends…

A Giant Problem

You didn’t wait long before the squirrels alerted you to the giant’s arrival. As you stepped outside the Grey Goat tavern, it became clear how the giant was able to go unnoticed for so long: trees and other greenery grew from its shoulders and back, allowing it to blend with the treeline from a distance.

Knowing that a proper melee would spell certain doom for your party, you crept through a wheat field toward the giant, then proceeded to psychically torture it to death from the cover of the crops. Such tortures included, among other things, conjuring an illusion of the juiciest cow to ever sashay away from a giant, then transforming it into a terrifying demon cow when the giant approached.

Having felled the giant, you returned to the Grey Goat to celebrate, but shortly thereafter some of the local farmers begged you to search the giant’s lair for some of their stolen animals. Despite Gustav’s objections, you agreed to investigate.

With the guidance of your squirrel friends, you discovered a ravine where the giant appeared to have been hiding — and where some explorers appeared to have been venturing, given the marked path you located. Within, you found a cave full of bones, giant spiders, and two unlucky scholars: Kriv Macetriachtetrath and Tasslehoff Burrfoot. While researching the geography and flora of the area, they had stumbled upon the giant and attempted to hide in the cave, only to be trapped by the webbing. You freed them, assisted Kriv in recovering a lichen sample, and promptly left the creepy-crawlies behind you. (Athrendil also acquired a magical ring which has yet to be identified.)

At the cave entrance, you were greeted by a small army of squirrels who had located the farmers’ last remaining livestock. You variously tried and failed to ride some of the animals, but ultimately you returned them (and the scholars) to the Grey Goat, trailing squirrels behind you. The farmers rewarded you with their collective life’s savings, approximately 150 gp. Satisfied, you returned to the Grey Goat to rest and plan your next moves…

Settling In, Venturing Out

Having been hired by Petra the Ironhearted to work in Merchant’s Refuge, you all spent some time settling in to your new office (the former Galamne Woodworks) on Lowlands Road. Among other things, Athrendil and Dex learned more about the resources in the Scholar’s Quarter from Rudy and Brighid Andradite, Gustav made a possible connection with a Copperhead bandit at the Refuge Jail, and Chadwick and Sloane found future work at the Fancy Feet Dance Hall.

Once you settled in, you decided to pursue one of the jobs Petra had initially suggested: investigating mysterious crop damage at the farms to the east. Renting some horses (and one donkey, appropriately named Ass), you journeyed into the Lowlands Farms, where you rapidly discerned that you were dealing with a forest giant. Who happened to be smart enough to drag his feet in order to muffle the sounds of his heavy footsteps, but not smart enough to keep to the outskirts of the farmland.

As the rest of you debated how to proceed, Chadwick used his forest gnome abilities to befriend a squirrel, whom he promptly named Alistair. After confirming that they were indeed facing a forest giant, Chadwick deputized the squirrels to alert you all to the giant’s approach, at which point you would figure out your next steps.

Partial plan in motion, you headed back to the Grey Goat tavern to drink and wait…

A Letter to Dexia

[In heavy, uneven print, with frequent mispellings and corrections:]

Dear Dex,

Hello! I hope this letter finds you well. I am doing good. Myriam is helping me practise my letters so I can write like you. Josef says it’s dumb but I think he’s the dumb one.

Please write back soon.

Your friend,

A Letter from Myriam

[In neat, small print:]

To Dexia, Athrendil, Gustav, Chadwick, & Sloane:

I hope this letter finds you well. Traveler’s Rest is thriving, and we only have you to thank. Had you not intervened, I doubt we would have been able to discover the goblins’ needs and negotiate a peace. Your actions have truly benefited us all.

Our supply of food is stable, for now. Game is still light, but we’ve enlarged our vegetable garden, and Dax and Atzo have taught the goblins to fish (apparently they fear the water, but they’re coming around). With time, our community might actually grow into a proper village after all.

The tiefling spellcaster has not returned, nor have any bandits. If and when they do, I’ll be sure to send word – please reply with your address if you intend to leave Eder’s caravan so the message can reach you quickly.

Additionally, please find enclosed 10 gold pieces. I know it isn’t much, but we wanted to do what we could. Traveler’s Rest remains in your debt.

Wishing you safe travels,
Myriam & the people (human and goblin alike!) of Traveler’s Rest

P.S. Dexia – please also find enclosed a second letter, just for you.

A Snake in the Grass

You left your room in The Crooked Bull that evening satisfied with your cunning plan: Chadwick and Sloane would create a distraction in the Lowlands Market, and Dexia would keep lookout while Athrendil and Gustav broke into Beryl’s storeroom.

As Chadwick and Sloane put on a rousing show that expertly combined Irish folk music and slapstick comedy, Gustav picked the locks and disarmed the tripwire alarms on the storeroom door. He and Athrendil were promptly greeted by twenty-four pairs of eyes belonging to the twenty-four carved wooden bears packed inside. Noticing the convenient, rug-laden path between the bears that led directly to their prize — Varasche’s sylvanwood — Athrendil and Gustav discerned that the bears were actually dart traps that would be triggered by pressure plates hidden under the rugs. Concerned by the amount of traps in the room, Dex encouraged them to take something small that she could psychically investigate later, and after some debate, you all agreed that this was your best course of action.

After resetting the traps and doing his best to re-lock the door, Gustav noticed a person climbing over the town wall into the small park behind Beryl’s store. You all hid as the intruder — a Copperhead bandit — arrived to meet with Beryl about the stolen goods. He and Beryl had an intense argument about the value of the sylvanwood, mentioning the Redwell Syndicate and a woman named “Oiphe” in the process. When the bandit finally turned to leave, sylvanwood in hand, Gustav decided he could not be allowed to get away, and promptly dropped out of a tree to clock him.

Although the bandit went down quickly, Beryl shrugged off every bit of magic you threw at xem, and managed to knock Gustav out with a particularly vicious use of Inflict Wounds. However, when Dex arrived with several Refuge guards in tow, Beryl was unable to shrug off her psionic Forceful Query, which forced xem to admit to cooperating with the Redwell Syndicate. Beryl tried to turn the crowd against you, but the information you had gathered helped convince the townsfolk of xir guilt. When xe finally turned on the guards in desperation, xe was promptly apprehended.

The next day, after Gustav had recuperated, you met with Petra the Ironhearted at her request. Impressed by your investigation of Beryl, she offered to hire you on as the resident adventurers of Merchant’s Refuge, giving you the chance to make some money and build up your renown before you headed to the capital. After some negotiation, you agreed, founding Tall & Small Investigators, Inc.

For now, you settle in to your new permanent residence on Lowlands Road, and wait for new leads to pop up…

A Thorough Investigation

You arrived at Merchant’s Refuge fully prepared to resolve Varasche’s accusations against Euphemia — well, all of you except Gustav, who immediately fucked off to go flirt with Adine some more.

After taking care of your lodgings at the The Crooked Bull, the rest of you decided to begin by interviewing the accuser himself. Varasche promptly revealed himself as a virulent elven supremacist and a poor businessman to boot, which clarified the racist nature of his accusations against Euphemia. After convincing him that you sympathized with his perspective, he revealed that his stock of sylvanwood had been stolen, though he was tight-lipped about what made the sylvanwood worth stealing in the first place — not that it mattered, because Athrendil quickly discerned that the wood had magical properties.

Reasoning that the thief might have struck at the neighboring woodworker’s shop, you visited Beryl Galamne to ask if xe had also suffered a recent theft. Beryl was calm, genial, and useless to the point of being suspect. Rather than attempt to wheedle more information out of xem, Chadwick and Sloane distracted xem long enough for Dex and Athrendil to check the store for magic. Your strategy paid off in the form of prominent energy signature emanating from Beryl’s back room.

Recognizing that raiding Beryl’s store in broad daylight without your rogue might be a bad idea, you decided to exhaust other, more friendly avenues of information. First, you interviewed Varasche’s sister, Naivara. She confirmed that Beryl was putting on a “spiritual” facade, though she regarded this as a sales strategy rather than any larger sort of deception. Second, believing (correctly) that some hard drinkers might have been up late enough to witness the theft while stumbling home, you interviewed some regulars at the Crooked Bull. One revealed that the thief had been a cloaked “tall person” who cast a spell to muffle the noise of the lock breaking.

Satisfied that you had discovered all you could, you returned to your rented room to plan how you would break into Beryl’s store that night…

Conflict in the Craftsman's Quarter

Upon your return to Traveler’s Rest, you held a team meeting about the entire goblin situation. Dex in particular was concerned that the villagers would kill the goblins even though it was apparent that they had been incited to steal the village’s food by the tiefling stranger. Eventually, spurred on by Athrendil’s positive assessment of her character, you all agreed that you would inform Leth of what you had learned and hope she could convince the others to come to a diplomatic solution.

Fortunately, your concerns were unfounded: Leth listened to your story, then relayed it to Myriam, who promptly organized a gift of food for the goblins in an effort to solve the problem that motivated their theft in the first place. The offer worked, and with the approval of Bugbear Mary, the village of Traveler’s Rest brokered not only a peace but an alliance with the local goblin tribe. Your help was celebrated with a small feast and a heartfelt toast before you finally departed for Abydon’s Forge.

Your journey was largely uneventful… that is, until your caravan was ambushed by a pack of bandits. Though you survived, your caravan leader was seriously injured and one of the carts’ wheels was broken. With little other recourse, Dex, Athrendil, and Gustav agreed to travel ahead of the group to Merchant’s Refuge and return with supplies while Chadwick and Sloane stayed behind to help guard the caravan.

In Refuge, you obtained healing items at a discount from the apothecary, Adine Firahel (helped along with some effective flirting by Gustav). However, rather than offer you a discount on a replacement wheel, the wainwright, Euphemia Greengrass, asked you to complete a task for her upon your return instead: investigate the (seemingly) false accusations made against her by her rival, Varasche Amanodel. With little money to spare, you agreed…

Goblins 'n Ghosts

While the rest of you spent the night recuperating from the goblin ambush, Gustav hid by the entrance to the goblin hideout, watching for the arrival of the mysterious stranger. He discovered that the stranger always arrived shortly after midnight and used a magical handsign to retract the thornbushes in front of the cave.

In the morning, after Gustav informed you of what he’d learned and after you interviewed the villagers, you formulated a plan: Chadwick and Sloane would disguise themselves as goblins to investigate the cave and determine what the stranger was up to. During this expedition, they found that the stolen food was unsalvageable and that the stranger had exchanged his knowledge of the food at Traveler’s Rest for access to one of the cave’s upper chambers.

After a failed attempt to tail the stranger — whom you now recognize as a tiefling with unknown magical abilities — you developed a new plan: you would return to the cave the next night before the stranger’s arrival time, get the goblins absolutely sozzled on hard liquor, and then explore the upper chambers at your discretion. This plan worked astonishingly well, in part thanks to Dex’s effective (and slightly accidental?) bonding with Mary, one of the goblins’ bugbear leaders.

With the goblins knocked out, you ventured into the upper chambers and discovered a secret shrine with a moon motif carved into the mountain. Here, you discovered a white crystal orb — but it spawned a powerful ghost when Gustav picked it up. Despite a hard battle, you nonetheless emerged victorious, and quickly stole back to Traveler’s Rest with your strange new possession…

Dexia's Journal
Trouble Everywhere We Go

Day 1

The informant I was supposed to meet at the tavern never showed, and while I waited a fight broke out over a card game. I had hardly turned around to see what was happening when a knife flew through the air right in my direction. Fortunately, a man named Gustav appeared almost out of nowhere, snatching the knife from the air a moment before it reached me. I nodded a quick thanks before ducking out, but we met again on the caravan out of town. He’d taken up with a haughty-looking elf and a very strange pair of gnomes, both bards and siblings, I think. We shared space in the caravan, and while I immersed myself in my reading I kept an ear on their conversation. We all seemed to be headed to the same destination, and since Gustav had been of valuable assistance in the tavern, I’ve decided to stay near this group for the time being.

Day 2

The caravan arrived at an inn called Traveler’s Rest. The innkeeper is a loud but friendly woman named Myriam, and her wife, Leth, seems to manage the tavern. Leth is quieter than Myriam, and straightforward in her manner. I like Leth.

I went to set up camp out back behind the inn and discovered a small hole in the wall where some stones had been removed. Just as I was going to take a closer look, some of my new traveling companions arrived to do the same. Turns out the inn’s storeroom had been robbed, and what little food that remained had rotted overnight. The whole situation seemed rather strange, and if our hosts were for some reason deceiving us into thinking their stores were depleted, or otherwise hiding some threat, I’d rather know about it sooner than later.

Gustav and the gnomes, Chadwick and Sloane, decided to take a closer look at the storeroom while the elf and I went to ask more questions of Myriam. More important to me than her answers, however, was her emotional state. As she told me the details of the theft, I sensed that her worry about the situation was indeed genuine. A cook from the tavern, Theoden, burst out of the kitchen as Myriam and I talked; his rage and frustration at the lost food was… unmistakably authentic. I’m convinced that these people have been the victims of a very odd crime, and what’s more, I think I like them. The rest of the crew I arrived with is also curious about the break-in, though perhaps for their own reasons, so we decided to begin an investigation. Maybe an outsider’s perspective will catch something the folks at Traveler’s Rest missed.

At Myriam’s suggestion, we set out to talk to a local woodcutter and huntsman, Atzo. Gustav and Chadwick had found goblin tracks in the storeroom; if goblins frequented the area, Atzo would likely know about it. He directed us to a part of the woods where goblins may be active, though he confirmed Myriam’s story that they’d never caused this kind of trouble for Traveler’s Rest before. I began trying to track the goblins further by observing the disturbance of the forest floor, but before we got very far, the goblins found us.

I was knocked unconscious in the battle by two swift arrows, but the rest of the party managed to intimidate the band of attackers with an especially brutal kick, which instantly killed one of their compatriots. Another goblin, placed under a sleep spell by the elf Athrendil (who was also kind enough to revive me), was then tied up for interrogation. I was surprised at how loyal he was to his goblin brethren, refusing to disclose their location even under great threats and intimidation. Fortunately, those bards have a way with their charms, and the goblin was instead persuaded to help us as allies. We learned that they were rotfinger goblins, hence the rotted food in the storeroom, and that the theft had been masterminded by a human in blue robes that had only recently struck up a partnership with the goblins. Tim, the goblin we spoke with, didn’t know much about this human, but did indicate that he visits the goblin’s lair on a regular basis. Before the bard’s charms wore off, we sent Tim back home with our thanks (after some rather heated debate about whether he should be allowed to live), and Athrendil, Chadwick, Sloane, and I all headed back to the inn for supplies and medical attention. Gustav stayed behind to keep an eye on the goblin’s lair, in case their mysterious human ally returns.