The party (less Baern, who elected to stay behind in Fallcrest to attempt to break into the real estate business) soon entered the gates of Winterhaven. Within, they met and took up with a local ranger, the dwarf, Stone Graves.
Within the city, their first stop was Wrafton’s Inn, where the proprietor, Salvana Wrafton, recalled Cordelia Stahl’s stay there a few weeks earlier. Salvana did not know what Cordelia was doing in Winterhaven on her most recent visit, but remembered that she had met with the town sage, Valthrun, the old farmer, Elian, and the huntress, Ninaran. Valthrun, Salvana told them, lived in the tower behind the inn, and the other two could often be found at the inn in the evening.
The party next paid the learned and enthusiastic Valthrun a visit. Brandis did most of the talking. Valthrun reported that Cordelia had talked to him when she was in Winterhaven a few weeks earlier. He said that she was searching for a nearby crater, at the bottom of which she believed a dragon was buried. Cordelia was not interested in a dragon’s hoard, which had likely been picked clean over preceding centuries; rather, on this trip she was interested in the creature’s remains. Valthrun doesn’t know the location of any craters nearby, but directed Cordelia to Ninaran, who still frequents the wilds around the town, and Elian, who did so in his youth.
At dusk, the party headed back to Wrafton’s, which was now beginning to fill up with patrons. Salvana pointed the party to old Elian, who was just then easing into a chair with a foaming ale. Stone sat down easily across from his old friend, and chatted away. Elian drew the party a map to the old crater southeast of town, which he remembered from the hunting trips of his youth: the same crater to which he had directed Cordelia weeks earlier. He also related that his son, Annis, had seen some of the reputed Raven’s Roost Bandits from a distance on a couple of occasions. Elian himself had seen no such thing, stating, “I don’t see so good these days.” When asked about Ninaran, Elian stated that the elf usually kept to herself, and might not be seen in Winterhaven for weeks at a time. Then, looking towards the door, he muttered, “Speak of the devil…”
Ninaran was striding into the inn at that moment, and motioned silently to the barkeep for two drinks before making her way to a table in a still-empty corner of the room. Althaea approached the hunter, and offered her a drink, but Ninaran rebuffed her. The hunter related to Althaea the same thing she said she had related to Cordelia weeks earlier: that there are no craters in the area, and that it would be safer not to poke around in the wilds with all these goblins afoot. When asked about the goblins, Ninaran reported that they were holed up in a cave behind a waterfall south of town. Finally, Althaea pressed for one too many answers from the elf, and Ninaran dumped out a drink on the rogue’s boots. Stone then intervened, and apologized for his new friend. Ninaran responded, “Keep your friends in line, Stone. I come here for the noise, not for the company.”
A general shout of welcome then erupted in the little inn: ‘Lord Padraig!’ Indeed, the mayor of Winterhaven was then entering the tavern. The man gave a silent wave to all assembled, bought a mug of ale, and then sat down alone to drain it. Stone, who had been employed by Padraig in the past, approached and made small talk about the goblins, the bandits, and the missing explorer. Padraig offered the party a bounty for clearing out the goblins in their waterfall lair. He also said that there were indications that the goblins and the bandits in the area had formed an alliance.
As Stone was winding up his conversation with Padraig, Ninaran motioned Althaea to approach. The elf pointedly did not apologize for Althaea’s wet boots, but did suggest that the party should closely scrutinize Padraig. The mayor, Ninaran explained, fancied himself a warlord, and had become frustrated by his inability to increase the size of Winterhaven’s militia. Ninaran would not be surprised if Padraig were in league with the Raven’s Roost Bandits, in an attempt to scare the town into devoting more resources to its military forces.
Having learned much, the party retired, and in the morning headed south towards the waterfall, stopping on the way to interview Annis, Elian’s son, regarding the bandit sightings. Annis reported that he had seen a man wearing a black raven mask at a distance four or five months earlier. He did a double take, and when he looked again, the man had disappeared. One of his friends said that he had seen two of the masked men together, again at a distance, but isn’t sure whether he believes him.
As the party approached the waterfall, they found a group of kobolds and goblins lying in wait for them. Brandis opened the battle by unleashing her dragonling familiar’s breath weapon on a group of kobolds. Althaea meanwhile took to the trees and fired arrows from the shadows. Stone, Nuvok, and De’Wayne hacked, slashed, and bashed their way into the fray. In the waning moments of the battle, when most of the foes were bleeding on the ground, one of the goblins attempted to retreat into the waterfall cave. Brandis and Althaea combined their efforts to stop it before it could gather reinforcements, Brandis striking with a phantasmal assault, and Althaea finishing the stunned goblin with a well-timed arrow.
When we reconvene, it will be 1200, 30 Planting 588.