The party arrived back in Fallcrest as the sun was coming up. Over breakfast at the Nentir Inn, Erandil Zemoar revealed a letter he had received from Harkenwold:
22 Planting 588
My wife, Cordelia Stahl, passed through Fallcrest a few weeks ago on her way to Winterhaven. She stopped at your inn, as has become her custom on these trips of hers. I am writing in hopes that you have some news of her. She wrote me from your inn on 8 Planting, and I’ve not had word from her since. Did her plans change? Her work, as you know, can sometimes be dangerous, and she is usually so diligent in writing to me.
I can only conclude that something has happened to her that is preventing her from writing. I hope it is not so, but I can no longer quiet my fears. If adventurous travelers cross your threshold, please present this letter to them, and let them know that I am offering a reward of 500 gp for my Cordelia’s safe return.
My highest regards to you, M. Zemoar. Cordelia has always spoken highly of you and your establishment.
The party agreed to investigate Cordelia’s disappearance. Erandil described Cordelia as a sturdy blonde woman in her mid-thirties. She is an explorer and treasure hunter.
Next Serim Selduzar slowly descended the stairs, preceded by a drake the size of a large dog. He had two black eyes and stepped gingerly. He refused to talk about his injuries and gladly changed the subject to real estate when Baern brought it up. Serim dismissed the possibility of occupying Kobold Hall (“I’d never get the smell out,” he laughed), but then admitted that he had actually investigated it a few weeks earlier, and knew something about its history. He reported that property had been purchased by the Kiris family, the ruling family of Kiris Dahn, during the years of Nerath’s decline. However, Kiris Hoyt, the last heir of the Kiris family, is believed to have died about ten years ago when Kiris Dahn fell to an invasion by the Daggerburg goblins.
The party excused themselves from the inn, and headed for Moonstone Keep to claim their reward from Lord Markelhay. Markelhay happily had his staff hand over 250gp when presented with the kobold chieftain’s bone mask. Markelhay then mentioned a letter he had received from Lord Padraig of Winterhaven. Padraig had mentioned sightings of Raven’s Roost Bandits around Winterhaven. Markelhay was skeptical, since the Raven’s Roost Bandits were more active in the vicinity of Hammerfast and Harkenwold, and were rarely sighted even as far west as Fallcrest, much less around Winterhaven. Markelhay suspects copycats or pranksters.
Markelhay also revealed what he knew about the previous day’s attack on Serim. He heard that a group of thugs in brown cloaks had attacked Serim near House Azaer in the Hightown, but that Amara Azaer and Grundelmar, priest of Pelor, had quickly come to his aid and chased off the attackers. Markelhay supposed that the attack may have come at the hands of the River Rats street gang, though it was odd for them to operate so boldly in the Hightown streets. Another explanation Markelhay acknowledged was the possibility that the attack was driven by simple anti-tiefling prejudice. Equipped with this new information, the party headed for the House of the Sun to see what Grundelmar remembered about the attackers.
Grundelmar and Nuvok had been sometime rivals at the House of the Sun, but Grundelmar was helpful enough today. He said that he came to Serim’s aid and clubbed one of the attackers in the leg with his hammer, opining that the attacker would be walking with a limp for a while. Grundelmar did not recognize the attackers, though he believes they might well have been River Rats.
The party next interviewed Amara Azaer regarding her involvement in the altercation. She stated she had been inside her shop and and seen Serim pass by just moments before hearing shouts and a loud thumping sound. She grabbed her staff and ran outside and got in a few hits alongside Grundelmar before the attackers ran off. She could not identify any of the attackers, but feels sure that they were River Rats. Grundelmar next helped Serim into her shop, and she tended his wounds for a while. She stated that Serim seemed distressed, and in order to help him feel safe, she gave him the drake with which the party had seen him earlier.
Now the party headed for the Septarch’s Tower to speak with Nimozaran about what they had learned in the ruins beneath Kobold Hall. Nimozaran was surprised to learn that a dragon was lairing beneath the old ruin, but quickly rationalized that it was probably one of Bitterstrike’s brood out of the Winterbole Forest. As promised, Nimozaran rewarded the party with a cloak of resistance, which Baern promptly equipped.
Still unsure of the identity of the wizard referred to in the letter they had found on the orcs, the party cautiously mentioned that they had encountered a small band of orcs on the road west of Fallcrest. Not detecting any deception in Nimozaran’s response, they displayed the letter to the wizard, and he was greatly troubled by it.
Nimozaran explained that his friend Treona, a native of Kiris Dahn, was a scholar with a special interest in the slaying stones of that lost city. Against Nimozaran’s advice, Treona had begun sharing her research with another wizard, Dreus, via a form of magical remote communication. Nimozaran concludes from the letter that their research has led them to believe that a slaying stone still remains in the ruins of the city, and that Dreus has hired a group of orc mercenaries to find it and return it to her. Nimozaran believes that Dreus intends to reverse-engineer the slaying stone, and sell new ones to the highest bidder.
The slaying stones were commissioned by the ruling family of Kiris Dahn, ostensibly to protect the city from outside invasion. The stones were imbued with magic that allowed them, when used, to kill one living being anywhere within a few miles of the city. Each stone was good for one such use. Although the original idea for the stones was that they would be used against the leaders of invading forces, in fact, most of them wound up being used by younger brothers of the ruling family against their elder brothers, or by competing advisors against one another, or by the ruling family against peasant leaders agitating for expanded civil liberties. In the end, life in Kiris Dahn became untenable, and when the goblin forces invaded, almost no one was left in the city who was willing to fight for it. The remaining slaying stones were long believed to have been expended in that final invasion.
Nimozaran thus encouraged the party to seek Treona out for more information about the stones, and urged them to thwart Dreus’s plans, to avoid the tragedy of another Kiris Dahn. Nimozaran vouches for Treona’s honesty, but admits that she is a bit naive. Treona lives in a tower on the King’s Road north of the Cloak Wood.
The party next headed for Teldorthan’s smithy to return the green dragon hide they had recovered from the Kobold Hall. He rewarded them, as promised, with 200 gp, and congratulated them on their victory over the dragon, reminiscing, “The first one is always the sweetest.”
Finally the party turned its attention to the Lowtown, to see what else it could learn about the attack on Serim. They started their investigation in the Lucky Gnome but small talk over drinks and darts brought them nothing they didn’t already know from the tight-lipped clientele. Next they headed down to the Lower Quays, where a merchant shipment was being unloaded from a boat. In addition to the crew unloading the shipment, a number of others milled around on the docks watching. One of these onlookers, the party noticed, was walking with a limp. Althaea and Baern approached this one at an opportune moment, while the rest of the party hung back and tried to look inconspicuous.
Seeing the approach of the dwarf with a giant axe strapped to his back, the limping man intoned, ‘Oh no, Kelson sent you didn’t he? Listen, it wasn’t what it looked like. I can make it right with Kelson. You’ve just got to give me a chance.’ Playing on the man’s fears, Althaea got him to admit that he had been moonlighting for an organization known as the Fell Court, led by one Melech Ambrose, a tiefling. The man next produced a letter which he claimed had been written to him by Melech:
Serim Selduzar has proven a particularly tough nut to crack; it will take some persuasion to get him into the fold. He is staying at the Nentir Inn. You will recognize him. Make contact near House Azaer in Hightown. Amara will intervene, of course. Follow the usual protocol: it is more important that Serim fear for himself than that he be injured. You will have your usual fee for this service.Needless to say, nothing should connect me to this enterprise. Inquiring minds should be able to follow a trail of breadcrumbs back to your erstwhile employer.
Speaking of whom, do you have anything to report with respect to our other arrangement? Is Kelson making plans against my organization? Does the fool even suspect our existence? Write soon.
The man, identified now as Claude Staunton, claimed that he had more letters like this one saved at his home, which he had always intended to turn over to Kelson. Althaea agreed to let Staunton live on the condition that he turn the letters over to Kelson before midnight.
When we reconvene, it will be 1200, 25 Planting 588.