An Elsir Vale one-shot
Once again the council of Dauth is meeting. Once again Galadan is angling for the council to come around to his previously-made decision. A spirit of fear and uncertainty lies on the little village. Marauders have the village surrounded, outlying farms have been torched, and rumor flies faster than the fleetest horse!
Sister Esmeralda steps to the door, beckons with vigor and impress. A good minute elapses. The Dauth council overhears, from the inn’s cloak-room, the following.
“Sounds like they need scouts, not a priest.”
“I heard the old ruined keep was taken over then ranked adventurers stormed it.”
“Yes I heard a bunch of heavy drinkers came in and kicked butt. Giant butt.”
“Yeah, a paladin among them – impressive!”
“Maybe we should just kick back and wait for them to come back.”
“Those types have a habit of not returning.”
“…So, do any of you gents have a price below which you’d not bother?”
“I fight for my faith.”
“If goblins are involved – and that’s what I hear – I’m in for goblin blood.”
“Alright then, in we go…”
Three very sturdy adventurers file in. One, very dark skinned, is obviously a priest of the One True Faith. Another is a dwarf with short bow in hand, another a man carrying a longbow. Both men are six foot, and broad across the chest. If possible, the dwarf is even broader of chest. Nor are any of them callow youths.
The danger as known
Galadan brings impatient-looking councilors to order and welcomes them, introducing them all. “We find ourselves sore tried by raiders on our outskirts. And we’d be fine glad of definite information as to numbers and plans. Now perhaps you can all introduce yourselves.”
“My name is Orisiel, Sir Orisiel. I am from the great city to the north. With the vale is in peril, I have condescended to come through. If you meet my price I will lend my sword.” The speaker is a tall, powerfully built high elf. His hair is silver, his eyes blue, and he seems well satisfied with his brief explanation as he seats himself back down.
“I am Uta of the hill dwarfs. Our gods speak to us. When we listen to them we prove ourselves to them. I come to seek my gods’ approval. With that all things are possible.” The speaker is the broad-chested dwarf. At first glance at his leather armor and weathered cloak one might take him for a ranger. Like most hill dwarfs he is quite swarthy, with dark hair and eyes.
“I am Brother Nucliff of the One True Faith. I’m hear to prove myself in the light, and further myself in service, to the One. Do as you will with me.” The speaker is the cleric, armored in heavy scale mail, and further burdened with shield and mace. His skin is exceptionally dark.
“Yeah. Name’s Roland, I’m here because I’ve heard rumor, goblin activity. If there’s one thing I hate more than orc, it’s goblin. I’m here to hunt them out. These are my tools” – patting bow and hatchet – “and that’s me.” Huge of shoulder and chest as befits a longbowman, this is obviously a ranger. He even carries a game trap. His arms are heavily tattooed.
“As the hefty man says, let’s hear what ya got,” Uta prompts.
“Well, what we know is there’s some kind of draginsh influence. Rumor says blue dragon, but that’s crazy talk owing to the other dragons here and there in the vale. Ya know about blue dragons? Maybe yer old enough to have fought in the dragon wars? They’re said to be among the wiliests.”
“Far more fond of using minions than other evil dragons,” Roland comments.
“Yep. Maybe that’s why it’s is so hard to pin down what’s going on! If ya don’t mind walking at my pace, you’ll get a better idea of what we want if ya come up ta th’ keep with me.”
They’ve heard that the keep is a ruin, but now local guards stand to the ready and they find the interior busy with work, repairs under way.
“Come up to the ramparts with me,” Galadan invites, and they do so. He gestures beyond the river that supplies Dauth with its water and part-surrounds the bulk of it: over in the woodlands, a single trail of smoke rises.
“The enemy camp – they’re probably setting to making rams and such like, if they mean to stay. That’s the thing – we don’t know. We need a prisoner, a low-ranking commander – someone that knows the leader’s mind.”
“Do we even know who ‘they’ are?”
“What we’ve learnt so far is that they number men and goblins, but as to their leader, we have only rumor and guesses.”
Galadan changes the direction that he is pointing:
“And see just over the bridge? The raiders burned houses right up to the mill. If they torch the mill it’ll be a real setback. That’s another job you could do, tonight. Guard the mill, then near dawn sneak into the woods and capture an officer type.”
The tall high elf Orisiel snorts. “Barely acceptable. I have some skill in the forest but I am no sneak, and will not go naked just to please a village. I’ll guard the bridge as a fall-back point. What of you, bother clanker? Are you going to shuck that scale mail?”
“If I must, yes.”
Some further discussion follows. Spells, night sight, fording and so on. The thought of sneaking close to the mill without exposing the party seems a question. Galadan invites them back to the inn to speak to Martin. And promises to find a woodsman for the ranger, Roland, to speak with.
Martin recollects a tunnel from the keep, to (probably) the river. As lads he and his friends did not walk the full length. And he’s hazy as to where the river-port is. Eventually, just hiding in the lumber-yard then filing through some cover, and running across the bridge, is voted in.
Sister Esmeralda doles out one standard healing potion per adventurer.
Roly loses his axe
As agreed, it is dusk. A high wind fans embers from burned-out cottages and the miller’s lodge, adjacent to the main structure, is catching! Uta and Roly run quietly up to the wagon-yard doors. They are closed but don’t seem locked or barred. Drunken laughter can be heard within, but faint, as though well back. More than two.
“Snipe and retreat?” Roly asks. Uta shakes his head. “The plan is to bring the others up.”
Hand-signals bring the other two adventurers up – Br Nucliff moves slowly, being encumbered – and Uta eases the doors apart.
Drunken miscreants, looting idly! They react aggressively! The adventurers aren’t used to working together, while the looters have poor judgment. It’s a contest between brawlers swinging clubs and adventurers using deadly weapons. It is very one-sided! Br Nucliff takes some battering when surrounded, then Orisiel slices one’s head off and Uta slots a shortbow shaft through the other.
Then a crossbow bolt strikes a pillar near the elf and the nature of the fight changes! A goblin boss hexblade has snuck down from the upper floor and attempted a sneak attack!
They chase the hexblade and one remaining looter, back upstairs. Uta gets close enough to take a Hellish Rebuke – then the boss leaps out the river loading-port and into the water! Roly rushes to the window and hurls his favorite handaxe – it’s a near-perfect strike! The goblin hexblade sinks…
“Now, let’s be ready. We set watch and before dawn, walk up to the ford the woodsman uses,” Roly prompts.
“I may have a prisoner – I cast a Spare the Dying on that jerk you skewered Roland,” Br Nucliff mentions.
“Interesting, I would say an arrow through the brain is pretty final.”
And so it proves. The adventurers drag the corpses back away and tidy, thoughtfully releasing some captive coin from looter purses into their own.
XP: 50 each
Loot: 300 copper coin worth of coin.
To be continued?
This is a down-scaled Greenest in Flames, from HotDQ. I expect any future action to be compressed, so set-pieces need to be the type that adventurers may bully or trick their way out of, or successfully battle through. The village map I’m using is very similar to Greenest, but not quite the same. I used Carnath Roadhouse as the mill. And the keep is a part-repaired ruined keep, as seen last one-shot, which allows an unexplored escape tunnel to make sense.