After traveling along Triboar Trail, the party arrived in the small frontier town of Phandalin. Sildar, seeming more at ease but in need of rest, pointed the party towards Barthen’s Provisions and headed towards the Stonehill Inn.
The wagon load of provisions was returned to Barthen and the party shared the troubling news of Gundren’s capture at the hands of the Cragmaw Goblins. Barthen was saddened by the news and encouraged the party to find and rescue the dwarf. He considered Gundren a friend and was excited by talk of discovering the lost mines of the Phandelver Pact in the nearby hills. Barthen also mentions that two more Rockseeker brothers, Nundro and Tharden, are camped somewhere outside town. Barthen hasn’t seen them in a tenday and expects the brothers to return “any day now” to resupply.
The next stop for the party was the Lionshield Coster. Before entering the establishment, the door of the Coster is thrown open and two rough looking humans wearing grimy scarlet cloaks emerged. Pushing their way past the party, one of them threw a departing threat at Yardar, the owner, “We’ll be back to collect. Have the money ready or else things could turn out poorly for you”. Yardar’s shop had been tossed by the human thugs.
Yardar was thankful for the return of her missing goods and rewarded the party with 50gp. She explained that merchants traveling from Phandalin to the cities along the Sword Coast have been hit hard by banditry. Her situation was made worst by the fact that the local band of thugs, the Redbrands, were making it hard on everyone, shaking down local businesses and demanding outrageous sums of gold for “protection”. Phandalin had close to noting in terms of a local guard and the Townmaster was too cowardly or stupid to do anything about it. So the Redbrands were left to run the city as they pleased.
By mid-day the party had secured lodging at the only inn in town – the Stonehill Inn. The proprietor of the inn was surprised when one of the party, a Tiefling no less, put on a lively performance. Word spread quickly that a “red-skinned devil” was performing at the inn and the place was packed within two hours. Taemon’s lively performance won the crowd over, and his celebrity status overshadowed the mistrust usually faced by his race.
Using this charm to win over the local “hussies”, Arkal was able to learn a few interesting rumors about the happenings in Phandalin. Notably:
- Thel Dendrar, stood up to the Redbrands a few dayd ago. The ruffians murdered him in front of several townsfolk. The scum then grabbed his wife and children, and now they’re missing.
- Qelline’s son had discovered a secret entrance to the Redbrand’s hideout under Tresendar Manor.
Using a more subtle approach, Alan spoke with Daran, an ex-adventurer. He learned of a Druid named Reidoth that apparently knows “every inch of land in these parts”. Daran claims that if anyone knows the location of Cragmaw castle, it will be him. Reidoth recently set out for the ruins of Thundertree.
The following morning, the party was treated to a complimentary breakfast of Toblen’s finest. As the group headed back into the street, they saw four armed ruffians waiting for them. All of them were wearing the same grimy red cloaks, their hands on their weapons. One of the ruffians spat on the ground and said, “Time for you to move on. You’re not welcome in this town”. Not at all intimidated by their threats, a short battle erupted leaving five dead Redbrands. One of them escaped between two buildings.
Shortly after the fight, the portly Townmaster, Harbin Wester, approached the party. He was clearly distraught and anxious about a group of unknowns stirring up trouble with the Redbrands. He was worried the thugs would return in numbers looking for retribution. He urged the party to bring the fight to the Redbrands hideout, and do away with their leader Glasstaff before things escalated. He then turned his back and began shouting orders to rally any man or child capable of wielding a sword to prepare for a fight.
Using the tip, Arkal had gathered the party, made its way to the hidden entrance to the manor – a long tunnel leading into the side of hill. The tunnelled opened to a large natural cavern which carried a faint scent of decaying flesh. The guardian of this cave was a nothic – an insane subterranean monster that hungered for Elven flesh and the secrets the party kept. The nothic was able to extract a few juicy secrets from the party before they decided to bring an end to the monster.
The party’s next encounter was with three bugbears. They were occupied bullying a goblin when the party opened the door to their barracks.
After dispatching the bugbears, they dragged the bodies into the room and took a much needed rest. This is where they met Droop, the Redbrands slave and cook. Droop was thrilled to be spared and quickly sided with the party calling them “master” and catering to their wants and needs.
After resting for an hour the party made their way to the mess hall. Four Redbrand’s, heavily intoxicated, where busying themselves playing cards when the party opened the door. A short battle erupted but the clumsy Redbrands fell in short order to the skill-full tactics of the party.
After collecting some coins in the mess hall the party located what appeared to be a wizards workshop. A rat scurried across the floor and took refuge under a large worktable setup with alembics, retorts, distillation coils and other alchemical devices, all bubbling way. Suspicious of the rat, Rolan put it to rest with a quick shot from his bow. As soon as the rat was killed the party heard a heavy chair being slid across a stone floor in the adjacent room.
Taemon burst into the room to find it empty. A quick search relived a secret door that had been left open in haste. Listening at the door he heard the foot falls of someone looking to make a quick escape.
Acting quickly the party back tracked and cut escapee. It turned out to be Glass Staff – a human mage dressed in purple robes. The evil mage attempted to talk his way out of trouble, offering the party power and riches but they weren’t convinced of this lies. Realising that negotiating wasn’t going to get him out of trouble Glasstaff used his beautiful staff to cast mage armour himself and ready for a fight. In order to avoid combat and needless death, Alan cast Charm on the evil mage and caught him of guard. Glasstaff was immediately taken by Alan’s spell seeing him as an ally and friend. Before he could shake off the mental effects of the spell, the rest of the party seized the opportunity and quickly bound and gagged him for transport. Alan took his staff and later learned it true power and nature.
With Glasstaff out of the way the party took a few moments to search his workshop and bedroom. In this workshop they found piles of books and notes. Pulling on his years of study in the arcane arts, Alan was able to deduce that Glasstaff’s apparatus appeared to be set up to brew potions of invisibility – luckily he hadn’t succeeded. Amongst the papers and lab equipment Alan also located three small bottles holding rare reagents: mercury, dragon bile, and powdered nightshade.
Glasstaff’s bedchamber was by far the most lavish room in the hideout. The walls of this chamber where covered with drapes of scarlet cloth. The furnishing was well kept, clean and comfy looking. At the foot of his bed was a sturdy, unlocked wooden chest which held the best picking of the Redbrands loot. The party also found a letter which appeared to be orders to Glasstaff (also known as Lord Albrek) – signed with a symbol of a Black Spider.
The party then escorted Glasstaff back to the village where he was handed over to Sildar to face a jury for this crimes against the good people of Phandalin. The party also had to defused an angry mob of commoners, that where readying themselves to burn down the Giant Ale Tap house with the remaining Redbrand thugs hiding within. After some convincing words, the mob was satisfied with taking an additional eight Redbrands into custody. (The local jail was only equipped for so many). The remaining thugs where booed and flogged out of town.
That night the villagers had a feast in honour of the party, now local heroes, and celebrated well into the night. Although spirits where high the party knew that their journey was just getting started. Glasstaff was merely a small player in a much bigger plot. Gundren was still missing, and the secret location of the Wave Echo cave was in jeopardy of being located by a mysterious figure… the Black Spider.