Heavy rain pummelled Dunstone, as it had for several days, turning the northern town’s streets to mud and keeping all right-minded folk inside.
In the common room of the Dwarf’s Folly, on the first days of Laerdonna, a disparate group of wanderers, sellswords and adventures gathered around a scarred, slightly wobbly table for a game of Dragon and the Thief. Some of the motley crew knew each other while others were meeting for the first time. The players comprised:
- Gromm (male half-orc barbarian)
- Bodrum Averskin (male half-elf cleric)
- Saeldur (male elf ranger)
- Balasar (male Dragonborn cleric of Bahumat)
- Ozloc (male half-elf warlock)
- Kildak Torevir (male mountain dwarf fighter)
- Jarrik (male dwarf barbarian)
- Wolfgrin (male dwarf rogue)
Although many of the players were strangers to one another it transpired, as dice were rolled and silver pennies were won and lost, many of them had a lust for adventure. Others were in Dunstone for a specific reason. The dwarves Saeldur and Kildak were in Dunstone to find the wizard Kullervo Lempinen and the ancient maps he apparently carried while Gromm was in town to find the bard Rister Kostia. For the rest, the possibility of adventure and glory, and vague rumours of a growing goblinoid threat to the town, had drawn them north to Dunstone.
As rain fell and dice rolled, ales were drunk, new friendships were forged and a plots were plotted. It seemed fate had plans for the newly formed adventuring band for both Kullervo Lempinen and Rister Kostia were apparently to the west exploring the Nameless Ruin—the so-called Horror on the Hill.
The next morning, the unseasonably heavy rain finally stopped and the adventurers explored the town a bit more—visiting various interesting locales and speaking with several knowledgeable locals including Vieno Rekola, the alleged witch Mari Parviainen and the high priest of Darlen Joonas Mattila (who spoke privately with Bodrum and Balasar, who in turn did not divulge the subject of the with their new friends). Sadly, not all these encounters went well—Kildak grabbing Soili and making various crude comments. The dwarf realised later this might not have been a great plan—particularly if Mari was indeed a powerful witch.
After a day exploring the town the heroes were ready to set forth, and to hurl themselves into the wilderness. Their goal—to reach the Nameless Monastery—seemed relatively simple; even though various rumours placed a cannibalistic death cult, a haunted graveyard, ogre slavers and an army of goblins in the hills surrounding the ruin the locale itself was barely five miles away.
Setting out on the 3rd day of Laerdonna, the party made quick progress along a faint, overgrown trail leading to the ford known to cross the river beyond which lay steep, heavily wooded hills surrounding the ruin.
However, the neophyte heroes faced their first challenge before they even reached the ford: a small band of obvious bandits camped next to the road. At the party’s approach the bandits launched a rudimentary deception—they claimed they were the baron’s toll takers and the party needed to pay them to use the trail. Unsurprisingly, the party did not fall for this ridiculous deception and combat broke out almost immediately. Just as quickly as it had begun, the fight was over; in mere seconds several of the bandits were slain and the rest put to panicked flight!
With this insignificant challenge defeated, the party—emboldened by an early success—continued on their way. As the sun climbed to its zenith, they reached the ford. Across the river lay the dark, brooding, tree-shrouded hills surrounding the Nameless Monastery…