SC4.01: Sleeping Giant stirs/News of the Third Banshee

The level four heroes for this session

Richlen the face;
Garth the brains;
Dakeyras the snoop

The heroes each have Inspiration, begin on 85xp below level 5 and end on 74

The heroes are wintering over in Phandalin. And already, planning for spring! There are a number of promising leads:

  • Dakeyras has word that old druid Reidoth needs help with a situation in the Thundertree ruins, and has a magic cloak of some subtle magic that he would part with as payment;
  • Rich has on good authority that a genuine “dragonslayer” magic sword lies beneath Dragon Barrow, which merely happens to be certain doom to those that brace it;
  • In pursuit of a quest to end a triple curse that lies upon the land they all have learned that the Tower of Storms, on the coast, holds the second banshee and a lead to lifting the second curse;
  • Their ally Akaros may have a further mission for them – they plan to visit him and find out more

Part One: Sleeping Giant stirs

In the general way of business, sojourning dwarf Torgga Nordar asks Garth to help her. She has the rights – with Lord Neverember’s seal to prove it – to the Sleeping Giant, the only tavern here. The present tenant declines to be evicted! And she’s backed by a small gang of bully-boys!

As previously noted, Rich is keen. But, “I’d like to know more about Torgga, the woman setting the quest, before I duck headfirst inta this,” Garth grumbles. “They tried ta suck me inta town politics a’ready.”

Garth makes a DC8 “Gather Info” type roll on a d20, CHA bonus if any, Proficiency, and his d4 from local fame! This entitles him to common gossip.


Garth learns that Torgga’s situation is as she says. Her folks supposedly owned the tavern, and now she has Lord Neverember’s seal to back her claim. But the tavern is run by Grista, who has run it since anyone can remember. It has a poor reputation with Stonehill Inn patrons.

But in the meantime – after all Torgga asked Garth’s help in the inn’s common room – word of the little job has spread. As the trio discuss what they’ve learned, a man slides into the seat opposite Garth.

“You c’n call me Tom – it’s as good a name as any – and I’m here representing Grista. She’s generous and wants ta be yer friend. She’ll match whatever Torgga is offering. An’ all ya haveta to is… nothing at all. Don’t lift a finger.”

Garth offers Tom a cool “I’ll think about it,” and turns him away with a promise to meet him in the Sleeping Giant for a talk.

“I get a bad vibe from that guy,” Rich offers once they are alone again.

Without Linc (busy following his master plan to dress everyone as his harem) there to throw cold water on the plan, team nosy wins the vote:

“We should at least talk to this Grista and see what they say,” Garth explains.

“I’ll back you up, of course!” Dak agrees – he’s in camp hands-off but he’s loyal through and through!

It’s said that the Sleeping Giant is if not the oldest, then among the oldest, buildings in the village. And it sure looks the part! Above its time-warped door hangs a lamp and a sign that looks roughly like a horizontal blob holding a club. And carven letters reading in common:

Sleeping Giant

The classic “silence falls, all eyes are on you” vibe lies thick upon the intrepid trio. It’s a rough-looking crowd: the least-honest types of woodsmen, miners and herders at best. A table – uncomfortably close to backstabbers – has been cleared.

Tom slides out of a corner and offers to seat with them. Dak stays at the door, Rich and Garth stay standing.

Tom rustles Grista out of her kitchen. She’s a dwarf too, with hair completely covered by a cheap headscarf. Her eyebrows are red, her eyes dark.

Grista

Grista’s case is that yes, Torgga’s folks did once own the tavern. But her own parents actually ran it, and when the Nordars moved away north, they stepped in to keep the tavern running. And that was 80 years ago. As far as she’s concerned, she has the rights.

Rich begin to pick up an undercurrent here. “I think we should let her be,” he suggests. The trio leave and Dak observes: “most of those blodgers were watching Grista, not you.”

“I wonder if she’s in some type of trap…” Rich muses.

“Let’s go talk to her again!” Garth exclaims, and they turn back and re-enter the tavern.

Tom smoothly slides up. “Yer had a change a’heart?”

“Naw, we just wanna ask Grista something else, something different,” Garth lies. They head up to the bar – Dak staying back by the door – and Grista automatically begins drawing a couple of tankards.

“This is our regular,” she says, pausing: “would you like something better?”

“I’d like to speak with you alone, actually,” Rich says quietly.

“I uh I think I’ve got something better out th’ back, if you’d join me,” Grista improvises hammily. As Rich heads around the counter, one of Tom’s cronies attempts to slip back there as well. Garth asserts himself, crossing his arms and glaring.

Garth makes 9 on Intimidate, including the d4 for local fame. His opponent uses Performance to counter and gets to 22. Garth counters that with 19 on Athletics! This allows Grista a clear round:

“They’ve got something – they’re holding… a guy… there’s danger – oh!”

The slippery guy joins them but Rich lifts down the cask of ale innocently enough, and they head back out: Grista starts the bung expertly and Rich enjoys the same fine ale he can get at the Stonehill Inn.

“This is an ugly lot,” Garth tries experimentally. Blank faces in the taproom tell him that only he Grista and Rich speak dwarvish. “Is there a back door?” he continues. “Out to the privies, or out through my quarters.”

He heads over to Dak:

“There’s a back door, a place out back, maybe someone held hostage,” he whispers.

Dak turns on his heel and begins snooping around the outside…

Performance check from Rich and Garth! Garth gets an absolute minimum: none of the patrons buy the idea that the pair are innocently drinking and a tavern brawl erupts!

Within seconds Dak narrows his choice down to the disinterested guard loitering by a small ancillary shed.

“I’ve been sent to relieve you,” Dak lies, “go have a drink son.”

I roll his fame d4 against Dak and he still makes DC15!

As Dak quickly unfastens the latch, there’s an increasing ruckus back in the Sleeping Giant! Dak opens the door, sees a large-shouldered – vaguely familiar-looking – man in a comfortable room, getting to his feet and drawing a sword:

“I was not to be disturbed… you!!!”

Inits: surprise guest Han Duble, Garth, Dak, Rich, Rich, tavern loafers

Han thrusts his sword into Dak’s shoulder, and flames burst along the blade, burning more damage! Luckily his second stroke misses as Dak hastily Disengages, Moves away to the shelter of the next nearest building, and Hides near a man sitting in the pale winter sun with his dog.

A d12 tells me the neighbor wants to help out against the gang!

Seizing a cudgel, the neighbor calls: “Jeff! It’s those rascals next door! Up and sic’em!”

Inside the tavern: Garth at first sings loudly and badly but then as the loafers attempt to burst past him, grabs up a table to block them!

Garth spends his Inspiration wisely, penning half the loafers.

At the rear exit, Rich decides to go with the flow and race out with the tide.

A fine Acrobatics check keeps Rich upright and his nice clothes clean. Immediately, he comes face to face with the armed Han, sword dripping with fire! By the way he squares off, Rich can tell this is no friend.

Drawing sword and rushing on, Rich swings lustily, penetrating Han’s defenses and cutting deep.

“You mean to give me a contest!”

Seeing that Han is about to fake him out, Rich switches posture and closes up, allowing Dak to advance behind Jeff to handy range, and hurl his dagger. Sneak attack! Han hisses in pain and looks very wobbly all of a sudden.

Han disengages!

Back in the tavern the men realize that their fellows went out the other way: they turn back. With a bellow of defiance Grista hurls the entire cask of ale at them. Six loafers sprawl! Tom alone dances aside:

“Ya betrayed us ye b****!”

Garth drops the table and draws out his hammer and cracks it past Tom’s guard with a Menacing Attack. Tom is hurled back, winded and Frightened. Granted space to move, Garth grabs Grista’s wrist, races through to her quarters, and slams the door!

Meanwhile: Jeff the dog snaps at Han’s heels, but Rich just keeps a-runnin ahead of the loafers and cuts Han down! “Ye’ll suffer in the hells!” he groans as Rich uses his Inspiration to ensure the hit.

Dak rushes the loafers, drawing his short sword and yelling!

The loafers draw up, horrified. Then flee! Dak laughs long and loud!

Victory!

By comparing the man’s feet with footprints of past enemies, Dak realizes that this dark-skinned half-elf is one of Hamun Kost’s two henchmen – and makes sure he is dead – no questions, no nothing!

Loot: Han’s body has no coins at all, but has a few gewgaws, some of which may be identifiable. One is an ornate face-veil, spangled with tiny but genuine gems. Another is a fine silver ring with what proves to be a fake ruby (made of zirconite, and still somewhat valuable). Finally, the fallen Han’s sword bears an ornate red tassel, quite distinctive. Dak keeps this to taunt Hamun with.

Inside his rather comfy little den, which the gang forced Grista to finance so that Hamun’s folk could come and go unseen, the trio find a map of Sword Coast trade routes. Less excitingly (until Linc examines it) there is a pot of strong-smelling glue. The pot, which has been coated inside with Oil of Slipperiness, holds only 2 oz. Sovereign Glue.

Intel: Grista adds that she believes the gang was hiring men experienced in tunneling, though exactly where, she doesn’t know.

Contact: While still unsure as to whether Grista was genuinely under duress, or simply saw which way the wind was blowing, the heroes have her as a good contact. In emergencies, they may put up at the tavern (on the tables) free of charge.

Minor contact: Phin the neighbor and Jeff the dog are pro-hero, anti-gang.

XP: lvl5-80, Inspiration restored for bringing down Han Duble.

Part two: News of the Third Banshee

A couple days later, eyes in Phandalin are drawn to the skies and alarmed cries turn to shouts of welcome:

“It’s a griffon rider! A visitor from Waterdeep!”

Indeed the greybeard Sildar Hallwinter is well known in Phandalin, a friend to Daran Edermath among others.

Sildar Hallwinter is a kindhearted human male of nearly fifty years who holds a place of honor in the famous griffon cavalry of the great city of Waterdeep. He is an agent of the Lords’ Alliance, a group of allied political powers concerned with mutual security and prosperity. Members of the order ensure the safety of cities and other settlements by proactively eliminating threats by any means, while bringing honor and glory to their leaders and homelands.

Well-wishers admire his mighty griffon as it lands, against the wind, on the village green; and they wave to the aged hero as he strides along the square to the Townmater’s Hall. He acknowledges Linene’s wave.

The trio of adventuring heroes head inside to see and talk to the man, and have a comfortable conversation. Until Dak asks if they can borrow his griffon.

“Haha, no.”

One he has handed over the gold he has brought from the Lords Alliance, Sildar gets to grips with events and local threats and decides to stay over for a time, using the Townmaster’s Hall. He and Preston agree that installing a ballista in the same will be for the best. Accordingly, Sildar pressures the trio to move on with completion of the long-delayed quest to Gnomengarde!

XP: lvl5-79

Linc sets his life and sanity in the balance and uses Barthen’s high-level scroll to work with the placid life-model Vincent. An Ice Ox is created!

Rudolph

“So it’s real, but it’s an illusion… O well as long as it doesn’t melt on us,” Garth puzzles, as he and Rich harness Barthen’s sleigh up to the crystalline beast that Garth names Rudolf.

It turns out that winter travel – aside from driving wind and snow – is really easy! Since they plan to carry the ballista back they travel light, and all three simply ride the sleigh most of the time. Creeks that were major obstacles afoot are now frozen over and snow-filled, and the sleigh skims over the ground as “Rudolf” paces on at spoken command.

“First stop, the old temple where Akaros lives now,” Dak confirms, navigating from memory.

The sleigh has perforce to halt at the dry-blown ravines below the Sword Mounts, and they walk on through the winding path to the old Dwarven Temple of Abaddon.

A ram-horn alarm tells them that the orcs have a watch out, and over the final canyon, one slides down, gives them a cheery wave, and gestures them on.

Akaros and Druuk – and Lok, who hurries out to clasp both of Dak’s hands in hers – are there at the gates to greet their guests.

There have been some simple changes made to the ruins, new walls thrown across and homes made livable and the like. But Akaros has not invited them there to show off his renovations!

“As we were exploring, seeking more of my scattered folk, we found another ruin, just to the east. Dwarvem by the look. I lost two good men there, set upon by foul undead – ghouls perhaps, controlled by some long-dead being – and I think you are the types that can overcome this. Of course as tradition dictates, everything you find will be yours.”

“We do have some expertise in spirits and the like,” Rich agrees.

“Most importantly,” Akaros continues, “Druuk dreamed that the spirit that controls the undead is linked to your fate – a banshee.”

“Speaking of dreaming, we’d like Druuk to take a look at this,” – Rich produces Talon the cursed Tresendar sword – “and see what he makes of it.”

The adventurers overnight there in comfort, while Druuk communes with the spirit of the shaman that curses the sword, and orc warriors giggle and nudge each other at Lok’s obvious crush on Dak.

“Lok want make cute baby with pretty elf,” she admits, blushing.

Druuk’s dreaming tells him that the banshee in these new ruins, Vyldara by name, will reveal where an ancient magic well lies. That well holds the key to cleansing the sword of the grudge-curse!

It may also be added that Sildar’s advice is that a high-level Remove Curse, which may be purchased in Neverwinter through Rich’s contacts in the temple, will do the same job. Just not for free, is all.

XP: lvl5-77

Since the ruin lies between their present camp and Gnomengarde, Akaros rides out with them to show them what they are getting into.

“One of my lads climbed up, and found there are vents high up in the cliffs – too small for orcish shoulders. We pulled down the outer iron gates, as you see, and that’s when I lost my two. Ghouls set upon them in the passage. You can see far down, there is another set of gates…”

“Thrust out from the base of a dark gray mountain is the entrance to the supposed dwarven fortress — a dark, fifteen-foot-wide passageway flanked by forty-foot-high bulwarks of smooth, seamless stone. As Akaros notes, an iron portcullis covered with rust has been sundered and dragged clear of the entrance. Arrow slits carved into the bulwarks are dark, revealing no hint of occupation.”

Dak and Rich scent the heady smell of adventure but Garth reminds them the agreement with Phandalin and Factoree takes precedence. Bidding farewell to Akaros they swing out away from the cliffs once more, and around east to Gnomengarde.

Still marveling at how easy winter travel is when being drawn by an untiring ice ox, they navigate successfully onto the further, eastern bank of the stream from the gnome-hold. While frozen for most of its length, the stream is fed partly by the warm springs whence the gnomes harvest their strange multicolored mushrooms.

There they find gnomes working the giant fungi, and others enjoying midwinter warm bathing. The gnomes recognize the two previous visitors and welcome them in!

Factoree

“it’s been a time, boys, but I’ve tweaked the ballista as far as it can be!” Factoree greets them, and is then introduced to Rich.

The machinery can be transported in two components: undercarriage and superstructure, so the sleigh no longer has any room for any but some basic gear and one Factoree-size passenger. Fortunately, Factoreee knows the mysteries of snow-shoes, and shows the lads how to make them. So, the trio plus ballista – once more uneventfully – return to Phandalin in triumph!

As the heroes – whom some are beginning to name the Silvers because of the poundage of silver coin recovered – see about their reward, Factoree and Preston set the basics of installation in motion, and fall into speculative conversation about a much longer-range piece sited up at Tresendar. The arcana of venturi, velocity, mass, and foot-pounds tumble from their lips, leaving all around them dazed. Dak bravely plunges into the tide of technicalities to recover the Sending Stone from Factoree, and as they search for Townmaster Harbin to claim the fifty coins due, the session ends.

XP: lvl5-74

Loot: 50 gold coin reward

Next Session: Axeholm

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