Evils of Haranshire

Prelude

You are approached by a middle-aged, dark-haired, slightly portly wizard who introduces himself as Gordrenn. “Purveyor of magical paraphernalia, material necessities, and related items to many wizards of note!” he says rather pompously. Gordrenn has a problem. He has to deliver a chest of material components to the wizard Tauster, who lives in the village of Thurmaster in Haranshire. His usual couriers have just left his service for better pay elsewhere, and Gordrenn is desperate to have the goods delivered. “Nothing terribly expensive or important, but Tauster gets very huffy if I’m even a day late,” Gordrenn admits. He offers the group 150 GP to take the chest. “And don’t even think about stealing it!” Gordrenn warns them. “It’s got a wizard’s mark inside it, and I’ll know wherever it is. Steal it and I’ll send all kinds of bad things after you.” Gordrenn wants a formal contract drawn up that lays out the terms, with all of your signatures on it, witnessed at the nearest temple. “Well then, now that we have a deal, you’d best be off by morning!” ~ Into the paid service of the Wizard Gordrenn. The area of mention, Haranshire. A small backwater of a few villages. Nestled along the Churnett river among rolling hills and forest. Mostly agrarian now, but with a bit of logging and what’s left of the mining from years past. Just enough to support the areas local needs. East of the Sword Coast, three days journey at best. You’ve all gathered here for your own reasons, and now have a lazy three days to recant them in each others company.

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S1 - Journey to Haranshire

We join our group in Beregost making arrangements for the night before their trip to Haranshire. The party has made arrangements to travel with a caravan of merchants departing in the morning.

Everyone splits for the night to their respective activities. The delivery chest from Gordrenn is entrusted to Dain’s servants. Talman seeks solace at a temple. Salyne rests on Talman’s word for nightly protection at the temple as well. Not requiring as much safety or comfort, Groat finds the company of his fellow brethren for a quite known only to the curious underworld. The rest hole up in the inn where they met Gordrenn.

The caravan departs in the AM for what is a mostly uneventful wagon ride of lite conversation. Hendell quickly recognizes the merchant with the most alcohol and in only moments is sharing a keg of a most peculiar wine. Casual conversation carries the day as the caravan makes camp for the night.

Dawn breaks and the sun is greeted by Talman Brightwater’s early morning holy rituals. Each member going through their routine as the smell of a morning campfire cook fills the wooded air. In a moment that is noticed by everyone, as the first rays of light reach Salyne’s skin, she glows a golden hue. It’s a sight that will be remembered by all, even if the true meaning of it escapes their understanding.

Conversation continues and Salyne gains the friendliness of the merchant Christer. The next couple of days they learn a bit about the area of Haranshire. The party learns of Count Parlfray of Thurmaster and of Darius Carman in Milborne. Though less than artistic, Christer draws a basic map of the area. The next two days continue uneventful until the caravan approaches an overturned wagon and a group in need of assistance.

A broken axle and a spooked horse are an issue as the party offers help to the travelers in need. When the horse is found, its leg has been broken. The owner regrets the horse’s inevitable fate which now forces the owner to take action against the steed. Talman intervenes and offers a healing hand. To the amazement and appreciation of the owner, the horse’s leg is mended. It will never run again, but the extended life it now has brings comfort to its owner.

With the wagon righted and the axle shown to be broken, the group begins to despair. Salyne however spends a considerable few minutes and is able to mend the wood enough that the wagon could limp back to Beregost. Appreciation from the group to our traveling party and we are set back on the trail.

Within a day’s hike to Milborne the caravan turns west and the party disembarks for their final stretch into Haranshire. Its then near the cutter brook crossing that a group of local farmers is met along the road. A friendly outstretched hand of introduction eases any concerns as two arrows fly nearby woods. The leader of the group points to Talman and shouts, “Get him!”

The first test of meddle minds an easily dispatched group of ‘farmer’ thugs. No real resistance is met. The leader falls as easily as the rest but the group is able to capture one of the weaker men. On the verge of shock, not much information is received from the questioning. The man blames Carlanis, the leader of the group. He explains that there is a bunch of “bad magic” coming through the area and Carlanis raised the group to capture the ‘evil magic users’. The party takes him captive.

A short march down the hill and the party arrives at Milborne, the first of the Haranshire towns. The meet a boy name Geoff fishing on a local pier. After a quick conversation about how the boy must be the greatest fisherman the world over and they are directed to find Garyld the town constable. Geoff points them to the Barron of Mutton.

Entering the Barron they find the place in chaos. The bartender Barthelew explains that Andren’s fiancé has disappeared the night before. The ensuing confusion introduces the party to the hysterical Andre, the missing Jelenneth, her father Haldelar and the constable Garyld.

Jelenneth, an apprentice to the wizard Tauster in Thurmaster retired to her room the night before and didn’t not come out the next morning. Andren broke the locked door to her room in and she was discovered missing. Gone were only the personal items that she kept close. Her blue cloak, and he inscribed broach. The party helps investigate the around the inn but no details are gained. Conversation reveals that the party is on their way to visit Tausters and Andren pleads with them to find out if Jelenneth has returned to Thurmaster (an outcome shared by nearly everyone except Andren). The party agrees and says they will leave the next day.

Back outside the party hands the prisoner over to Garyld who assures them that justice will be served. The details or the criminals don’t mean anything particular to Garyld, but it’s clear the matter doesn’t sit well with him.

The party, fit to turn in for the night, secures a few of the nicer two person rooms. Groat, learning there is a “seedier” inn on the west side of town gets a smile on his face and heads to the Silver Crown.

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S2 - Down the Churnett to Thurmaster

The next morning breaks and the party meets several new characters in their preparation for the trip to Thurmaster. Talman, after finding the local temple empty, meets the local shop owner Rastifer. Although Rastifer doesn’t sell weapons, he assures the group that he has or can procure about anything they could want or need. His definition of the usefulness of such items however may be up for interpretation. The current priest Semephis, and the towns lack respect for him is briefly discussed. Talman describes his approach and how he hopes to turn the favor of the town’s people. Over at the Silver Crown, Groat has gained some local information from the owner Thimpsen and his son Gergel. The group commissions a merchant barge heading east down the Churnett river for Thurmaster.

Arrival in Thurmaster is uneventful although the condition of the town is considerably worse than Milborne. Much smaller and fallen into neglect, Thurmaster sits on the East side of the Churnett just north of the NE corner of the Thornwood. The town is surrounded by a rotting, decapitated wooden wall and gate although keeping anything out is a mere formality of a day long past.

The group finds Tauster at home. He is happy to receive his chest and after checking the appropriate paperwork provided by Dain’s servants, trades the party for a notice of credit redeemable by Squire Marlen.

Tauster is asked about Jelenneth’s disappearance. He hasn’t seen her since she left for Milborne, but he wasn’t expecting her back yet either. The news is distressing for him and he asks the party to visit the ranger Kuiper at his farm along the Churnett. Jelenneth frequents the woodlands near there and if she is anywhere in the area the ranger will likely know. Tauster offers to put the party up at ‘The Hound and Tails’ for the night.

The group finds their way to the inn, along the way inquiring about Squire Marlen with locals they meet in the short distance. They are directed towards the inn. Even in the short conversations however, it’s clear there is some ill will towards Marlen.

At ‘The Hound and Tails’, the group finds Squire Marlen going through some paperwork over dinner. They discuss the note of credit from Tauster and Squire Marlen says that he will take care of it soon. Not being soon enough the group pushes him for an immediate payment. After some back and forth, he agrees to pay them after his dinner. The group doesn’t leave him much peace eagerly awaiting his departure.

Once at the Squires residence, the group is greeted by a well-armed guard in the doorway. Marlen tells them to wait for him outside. Hendell, not wanting to let Marlen out of his sight insists on coming through. Groat takes up position around the back of the residence. After a few tense moments Squire Marlen returns to the door and payment is made in full. The party knows this will not be the last time they cross paths with the squire or the guard.

Back at the inn, the group gets some local history from the owner Weismar. He tells of the Lizard men raiding parties from some 40 years past that were responsible for town’s current condition as well as the deaths of nearly half of Thurmaster’s residents. Count Parlfray eventually hired a small contingent of fighters to end the lizard terror. Sending them deep into the Shrieken Mire to dispatch with the Lizard leader. Although Lizard men still live in the mire, they are rarely seen and have not caused problems for decades.

Before heading out towards Kuiper’s farm, the group meets with Tauster again and inquires about Count Parlfray. Attempting to seek an audience with him, they look to Tauster for an introduction. Tauster only feels mildly put out by this, as he’s oft to do with most requests, and mentions that he was hired by the count for some “Celebratory Fireworks Display” the next week. Tauster agrees to discuss a meeting with Parlfray.

Now heading back up the north side of the Churnett by foot the party settles in to an easy pace. They meet a field hand along the way that gladly directs them to Kuiper’s farm. They meet Kuiper, a sturdy man with a firm handshake and a welcoming greeting. Kuiper hasn’t seen Jelenneth for a week or so, but knows that she frequents the upper Thornwood to collect different plant life for her work with Tauster. He suggests to the party that they collectively investigate the Thornwood in search of any sign of the young apprentice. The party agrees and after supplies are gathered they venture south with Kuiper.

The group heads into the Thornwood along Hog Brook. No sign of Jelenneth is found and the ranger grows increasingly concerned. The group decided to push on a bit farther. Deeper into the wood and the forest begins to close in. The path, once clearly underfoot becomes harder to follow. Just then the group is startled by two wolves. Kuiper motions for the party to stop as a new figure emerges from the thick brush ahead. A young woman, clearly of the forest, a Druid.

Kuiper and the woman talk for a short time while her wolves keep everyone mostly in their places. They speak in Druidic, although no one in the party can understand the conversation. Kuiper introduces the Druid, Oleanne. He relays her story about a frightened werebear she has been tracking. A boy from a farmstead near Kuiper wondered into the Thornwood and turned. Frightened and unaware of how to handle his new form the bear became desperate and ran deeper into the forest. Oleanne had been tracking him, afraid for what unexpected situation the boy may face, or what harm he may cause.

The group having found no sign of Jelenneth, and at Kuiper’s recommendation, decides to help track the bear. Oleanne says that they are not far behind him. Night, however, comes fast in the forest and after a valiant push, everyone decides it better to camp for the night.
Just before Dawn the party is aroused by Oleanne’s wolves. They sense danger approaching and give just enough warning, turning what would have been ambush into a fair handed fight.

At least 8 Orcs come rushing up through the trees and break into the party camp. Oleanne’s wolves rush forward towards the leading two orcs. Dain Stonebeard takes the lead, bashing through the Orc line. He takes an early heavy blow causing a tense moment but Talman is quick to action and pulls Dain back from the brink. The party makes quick work of the Orc grunts, and even the leader falls without much more trouble. Talman continues to be quick to heal and even helps Arlin, Oleanne’s lead wolf. The party’s quick action and teamwork are not lost on Kuiper who is quietly impressed.

Investigation after the fight reveals gear from the orc group is as expected for such a band, but the leaders shield and actions speak to a purpose that neither Kuiper nor Oleanne have seen in the area. This has them both concerned. Oleanne, unsettled by this disturbance, sets out immediately to track the orcs back to their origination. Confident that Oleanne can handle herself, Kuiper gets the party together to continue tracking the werebear.

Picking up the werebear’s tracks, the trail begins to loop back to the thinner area of the woods. It’s then that the party catches up to the boy. Still in bear form, the boy is seriously wounded but incredibly agitated, confused and aggressive. Kuiper insists that no more harm come to the boy and he pulls out two nets from his pack. The party attempts several moves to calm the bear while they encircle him. In a final flurry of strength the party successfully ensnares the bear.The bear is brought under control and now with a familiar face leading him home, offers no more resistance. Before emerging from the woods the boy returns to his normal form. Salyne covers the boy now exposed to the world and thoughts of her own children are at the front of her mind.

Back at Kuiper’s farm, he urges the party to return to Milborne and update Garyld. He will be keen to learn the last day’s events as well as everything the party has learned so far regarding the missing Jelenneth. Kuiper heads off to take the boy home to his family. Our party heads west towards Milborne.

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S3 - Investigate the New Mire

The next morning in Milborne there is a bustle about the town. The Denfast’s, a family of farmers, has abandoned their land and are selling their remaining equipment. In conversation, the group learns about some trouble with the farmland in southern Haranshire. What was once a fertile place, the land has become waterlogged and swollen with standing water. The “New Mire” as it’s called has been growing for two years and no one understands why. The Denfast’s have lost their livelihood and are frustrated with Darius Carman’s lack of resolution to the issue.

Most of the party goes about town learning what they can of the issue, talking to the family and others around the exchange. Dain sends his servants to seek an audience with Darius although they are met with resistance from the doorman. Talman takes the opportunity to follow up with Semephis at the temple. Clearly Semephis is not in line and knowledgeable about the reasons that Talman is in town. Talman makes the best of it to ease Semephis’ concerns while at the same time impressing on Semephis the changes he intends to make. After his discussion, Talman goes around town and spreads the word about the healing services that are being setup at the temple.

The party, now regrouped, decides to attempt an audience with Darius Carman. Entering the mansion grounds they are happy to find Darius on his way out. Short and gruff at first Darius isn’t very cooperative. Dain attempts to appeal to the more noble side of Milborne’s leader and Darius begins to open up.

The New Mire problems are discussed and the group learns that there have been several attempts, at great expense to Darius, to solve the issue. Several parties of different skill have been sent and after wasted time and money have no more information than “Yup, something isn’t right here for sure!” Darius, in what he sees as a last attempt, commissions the group to help find a cause. He agrees to pay 50GP for two seeks investigation. He concedes to offer an additional reward if the party can resolve the issue within that time. The party, sensing his desperation, successfully gets Darius to double his reward for success to 2000GP.

Before leaving town the party also meets with Garyld. They update him on the progress in search of Jelenneth, and the events that took place with Kuiper and Oleanne. Garyld fills in some background on their roll in Haranshire. He explains that the 3 Rangers (himself, Kuiper and a yet unmet Shiraz, along with the druid Oleanne), have taken charge to watch over greater Haranshire. Garyld scribbles some notes down on a shred of parchment and places it in a little cylinder attached to the foot of a crow. The crow flies off to the south, “Inner-Haranshire communication.” He says. Before leaving Garyld delivers a map, giving the party a better sense of their position in Haranshire.

Heading south to investigate the New Mire, the party visits the small village of Harlaton. Although dotted with many farms along the way, the village itself is represented by not much more than the single tavern and common area. Inside the group meets a young woman tending the bar. The place is empty otherwise, even the cook has to restart the stove when the group orders up something for lunch. Lite conversation with the girl confirms the growing understanding of the local’s frustration with the Carman family.

In a short while and with the map marked the party ventures on westward across the northern end of the patchwork hills towards the New Mire. They decide to take a shortcut through the hills which is fairly easy going in addition to saving several miles of walking.

Scouting through the foothills, the group finds traces of goblins and comes across a cave. Without much hesitation Groat explores the cave confirming the presence of goblins. The group decides to take a direct assault and stations up at the first narrow passage. From this point the group easily dispatches goblin after goblin. Further in the cave the rest of the goblins are cleared. Searching the area the party finds three dried skins of red goblins. This stands out as all the goblins encountered in the cave so far have been green. The group takes the skins and before getting back to the path decide to secure the cave entrance. The dwarves find it and easy show of strength and cover the entrance for good.

The party creeps along the north edge of the New Mire, crossing farm after farm as the evidence of trouble is seen firsthand. They meet a young farmer on their way and after a short conversation he directs them towards the Denfast farm. Like the others along the way, Talman gives the offer of some work back in Milborne for a young farmer at the temple.

An abandoned farm is located and believing it to be the Denfast farm the group scouts the area. Before everyone retires there is a sound outside the house. Groat goes to investigate.

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S4 - Exploring the New Mire

While bedding down for the night, a noise from outside the house arouses curiosity. Groat investigates and meets a very wide and tall Dragonborn named Xeno. Xeno comes with news from Kuiper, with whom Xeno is a previous acquaintance. Kuiper has learned from Shiraz that giant frogs have been seen in the New Mire. A development that on its own isn’t out of the ordinary for the type of area, but speaks to the growing situation of the rapidly changing land.

The party follows along the cutter brook for a few miles but the terrain slowly grows harder and harder to traverse. Brief thoughts of the need for boats are discussed as the party decided they have ventured far enough for the day and had better turn back. On the way back, they encounter the first group of giant frogs. It’s only a matter of a minute before frog legs are chopped and stored for a later meal.

Back at the Denfast farm the group rests again for the night.

The morning breaks and the group’s new plan is to travel the outside edge of the New Mire back towards the hills. Travel through the day is easy enough and the group reaches the eastern edge of the New Mire near where the Cutter Brook starts its journey down to the Churnett River. Along the way they scout a massive bird figure overhead. Although its size is incredibly large for a flying beast, it seems to pay them no attention and they continue on. Xeno scouts for some game along some discovered tracks and is able to bring a deer back to camp to add to the remaining frog legs cooking over the open fire.

The party is met by a traveling hunter, Prastan, who although surprised to find the group, is friendly enough and is invited to camp with them for the night. Conversation with him confirms the goblins of the hills, but like the party, he has only had a run in with the green goblins in the norther areas.

The next morning the party splits from their new friend and makes their way west along the Cutter Brook. The area resembles most of what was seen on the north side of the brook but grows worse at a quicker rate. Occasionally the group losses the brook in the surrounding water as the territory grows wilder.

Deciding to cross the brook and investigate the area to the south Xeno takes a rope and one by one the party is pulled to the southern side. Before the last of the group is safely across they spot another group of giant frogs.

More resistance is met with this encounter, but ultimately the party is successful. Cutting open the largest of the frogs reveals the recently eaten remains of another red goblin.

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S5 - Slogging through the mire

The party pushes on through the mire, slogging their way mile by way through the uneven water logged terrain. With no discernable reasoning found for the New Mire creation, the party circles around and heads to the south.

At the edge of the mire with open rolling hills stretching South the party travels east towards the Patchwork Hills. A few miles from their last camp they spot 2 green goblins with a captured sheep. A quick sleep spell and some rope and the goblins are captives.

Now aroused, the goblins are terrified. They do not speak common but the party has an idea on how to get a message to them. The dried red goblin skins are produced and shown to the green captives. They are clearly disturbed by the sight alone. Through a little patience and interpretation, the party attempts to learn the location of the red goblin lair from their captives. Some acted scenes and a map get the greenies pointing in yapping, in what the party hopes is a sign of understanding. Eventually agreeing to let the captured go, the party moves North East through the mire making a straight line for the location signaled by the goblins.

Cutting across the mire another group of giant frogs is encountered. What starts off as a few random quickly escalates to a mini-lair as additional frogs and a group of Bullywugs emerge from unseen holes below. Although some damage is taken and heals passed around, the encounter continues to prove less than a test for our adventurers. The party decides to continue toward the red goblins and leave any additional frog lairs alone.

Now back in the Patchwork Hills, the party scouts around for several hours before stumbling on a small path leading up through the hills. Cautiously investigating deeper the path winds its way into a small canyon. At the end of the canyon the path rises steeply and switchbacks up towards an exposed entrance to a cave. With the area scouted, the party decides a nights rest should separate them from any further investigation. They take shelter back outside the canyon and post watch for the night.

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S6 - The Red Goblin Cave

Rested for the night the party heads back to the canyon to approach the cave. Groat and Salyne quietly make their way up the switchbacks and just below the cave entrance. From below, Corwin creates a minor illusion at the entrance of the cave to draw out any guards. One red goblin emerges and the fight is on!

Groat makes quick work of the first and heads into the cave entrance where he and Salyne dispatch another. The entire party gathers just inside the cave entrance to regroup. At first, Groat leads the way deeper into the cave, but after encountering the small group of goblins, Dain and Xeno take to rushing forwards.

As Xeno pushes the bounds of his visibility (limited to Talman’s light stone), Dain heads a different direction and the party is quickly facing down two fronts of assault. Pounding goblin after goblin as they go, no real challenge is encountered until the party is back together and a large contingent of goblins seems to be streaming behind some guards. Perhaps making an escape. A sleep spell and steel continue to reduce the numbers of goblins until the halls are once again quiet.

Some discussion on whether to give chase to the fleeing goblins or push deeper results in the group continuing to follow the winding path inward. Before long the group reaches a point where the hall ahead opens up into an expansive room. Wedged into the entry way is a group of guards backed by a well-armed leader shouting at the approaching party.

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S7 - The Red Goblin Leaders

The party enters the main goblin cavern to find the Chief backed by a Shaman. Dain rushes forward and in the fight injures his shoulder in an uncharacteristically spectacular swing and miss. Although the chief attempts to call out for the party to stop, no one understand him or no one stops and he and the Shaman are taken down before a single offensive spell is cast. The group loots the bodies and keeps a ring from the Shaman with an odd symbol.

Exploring the now vacant cave system for any clues to the New Mire mystery, Groat explores a water system that seems out of place for the surrounding area. He follows it to another caver where more goblins are hiding. The group uses the rope and a quick breath and swim later are killing the remaining goblins.

Later outside Xeno finds and area to camp the night. A little more investigation of the area the next day, but the party decides to head back into town with little additional information.

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S8 - Regroup in Milborne

Back in Milborne the group heads to their respective resting places. Talman talks to Semephis at the temple about acquiring a ruby. Groat talks to ‘Ole Grizzler at the Silver Crown. The party meets up with Garyld and gives him all the news of the ref goblins. They leave a skin with him. Settling up their equipment at Rastifer’s store, they place a special order for a pearl. The order will take two days and the group spends that time settling in. One last item of business during down time involves Nafton’s Stables. Groat produces a purchase receipt, paid in full, for a dog. Nafton is well known in the area for training the best dogs. Highly intelligent, and used for everything from guarding to hunting, Groat takes the time to go through the necessary instruction to bond the dog with himself. ‘Bite’ as he is named will serve his purpose well in the adventures to come. Xeno is impressed with what he sees and inquires about purchasing his own hound. After choking on the price, the party briefly wonders how Groat came about this purchase receipt.

Meeting up with Darius Carman at the Smithy, he is surprised to find out about the red goblins as well. As always, Carman’s true feelings are a bit hard to pin down and after updating him on the New Mire progress the group get passage to Thurmaster.

The groups seeks out Tauster to see if he can determine the meaning of the Shaman ring from the red goblins. Talman had derived that it was magical, but not to its ultimate purpose. A brief investigation by Tauster and it is determined that the ring is a malfunctioning Ring of Water Elemental Control. Salyne is convinced this is the sole source of the New Mire problem. Talman is not too sure and they decide to put a little more time into investigating before returning to Carman. The group stays the night at the inn in Thurmaster. They see Squire Marlen, but decide not to toy with him at the moment.

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S9 - Last look at the New Mire

One last foray into the New Mire the group goes all out, trudging through the last remaining corners of unexplored area. Several groups of giant frogs are discovered and quickly dealt with, providing more than one dinner and breakfast for the group, including the new addition, Bite.

Cutting back towards the Patchwork hills, they discover a group of horribly brutalized goblins. They are torn to shreds as if eaten then spit out by rabid dogs. Groat picks up a trail leading away and quickly finds the responsible party, a band of gnolls. This leads to one of the first real disagreements in the group as Groat and the other front liners want to ambush but the intellect crowed want to keep to the task at hand. Ultimately they decide to ignore the gnolls.

One last night of camping the outskirts of the New Mire then the party retreats to Harlaton. In town there is a commotion about a murdered farmer. Charles Erinstead has turned up dead under unusual circumstances, although no one has any detail that can be validated. The party agrees to pass the info on to Garyld in Milborne the next day.
Back in Milborne Darius Carman is sought out for update. After telling of the supposed murder in Harlaton, he becomes increasingly nervous. After additional updates, Garyld leaves to investigate.

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