5 Flamerule, Year of the Warrior Princess (1489 DR)
Town of Phandalin, Sword Coast
The sound of the door opening into the slave pens woke everyone from their sleep.
It felt longer, but it had only been half a day since the adventurers were captured by the Redbrands. Osric Drakespeare, the half-elf bard was killed when the adventurers came upon four Redbrands gambling in a common room.
Yarris, a Redbrand the group mistakenly trusted, led them to the common room. He then turned upon the group and joined the others in attacking the adventurers.
Only Xander managed to avoid being killed or nearly killed by the two remaining Redbrands which included Yarris.
A figure which stood less than four feet in height entered the slave pens.
The figure wore the familiar red cloak worn by all Redbrands. The hood of his cloak obscured his face in deep shadows.
The short figure carefully and quietly entered the slave pens then closed the door behind him.
He looked around then moved closer to the cells holding the adventurers and the young boy.
The figure then drew back his hood, revealing a youthful looking lightfoot halfling with straight light brown hair combed forward. A single gold earring adorned his left ear.
He pulled back his red cloak. He wore a full suit of black leather armor. A shortsword hung from a leather belt, as well as a hand crossbow.
“Who are you?” the halfling asked Xander.
“My name is Xander and these are my friends.”
“Why are you here?”
At this point, the others were beginning to stir, albeit slowly.
“We wanted to help the people of Phandalin.”
“Why would you care about these townsfolk?”
Despite the pain wracking his body, Sildar pushed himself to a sitting position. “Because someone has to.”
The halfling regarded Sildar with curiosity. “Who are you?”
“I am Sildar Hallwinter. I am a member of the Lords’ Alliance. The others are helping—”
“Shh,” the halfling suddenly interrupted. He took a few furtive steps back and disappeared into the shadows beside the slave pen’s entrance.
The door opened.
Yarris entered, followed by someone wearing a hooded robe that reached to the floor. The man—if he was a man—held a staff, beautifully carved from a single piece of glass.
Neither Yarris nor the hooded man noticed the halfling.
Everyone in the cell but the boy rose to their feet.
“I will deal with you later,” Xander told Yarris.
“My good gentlemen,” the man in the hooded robe said in a voice as cold as the stone floor. “I would expect more from my guests.”
“We are hardly guests here,” Randal said.
“You must be Glasstaff,” Ghesh said.
“Very perceptive dragonborn,” the man said. “I wish I could provide you with more suitable accommodations. However, be assured that you will not be here much longer. Except for you.”
The robed man pointed a finger at Sildar.
“Why me?” Sildar asked.
“Because,” the man said slowly as he pulled back his hood. “I would prefer to see you spend the rest of your days rotting in this cell.”
“Iarno Albrek!” Sildar yelled. He pushed against the iron bars and tried to reach for the wizard who stood just beyond his grasp.
“My dear friend. It is good to see you again.”
“How could you do this, Iarno? You were sent here to establish order in Phandalin.”
“I have done exactly that,” Iarno intoned. “Before I arrived in this godsforsaken town, the Redbrands were nothing more than a motley group of road brigands and cutthroats.”
“And now they are an organized group of brigands and cutthroats,” Randal said.
Iarno gave the paladin a rueful glare.
“Say what you will my good gentlemen. I have secured a position here and no one can take that away from me.”
“You will pay for this treachery,” Sildar intoned. “I swear it. When I get out, I will see you pay for your crimes.”
Iarno let out a diabolical laugh. “You have always been a fool, Sildar. Always unable to face the truth even when it is standing there before you. You will rot here, while your friends are sold into slavery.”
Sildar gritted his teeth and shook the bars with all his strength. The iron bars rattled but held firm.
Iarno turned to leave. Yarris followed close behind.
“C’mon Yarris,” Xander instigated. “Just me and you and a couple of swords.”
Yarris only grinned.
“Coward.” Xander said. The door closed behind the Redbrand. From outside, Yarris locked the door.
The halfling stepped out of the shadow as if he were a natural part of it.
“Free us,” Randal said. “And you will be rewarded.”
“Why should I help you?” the halfling asked.
Sildar pushed against the iron bars. “Because I want to bring Glasstaff to justice and put an end to the Redbrands.”
The halfling stepped closer to Sildar. In his hands, he held a set of thieves’ tools. “Now you have my interest.”
“So what is your name?” Randal asked. He and the others were quickly donning their clothes from the pile of clothes. Mirna and her family did the same.
The halfling had freed them all. However, they had none of their equipment. Probably taken by the Redbrands and kept elsewhere.
“I am Errich Alderleaf,” the halfling introduced himself.
“Alderleaf?” Xander asked.
“Yes, Qelline Alderleaf is my aunt. Carp is my cousin. He told me you were here.”
“We’ll need our weapons and armor,” Ghesh said. He stood guard by the door.
“How are we going to get past the skeletons without the red cloaks?” Randal asked.
“There’s an armory nearby,” Xander reminded everyone. “We can equip ourselves there.”
“Your equipment would most likely be either in Glasstaff’s quarters, kept in his footlocker, or given to the others in the common room or barracks,” Errich said. “There are also extra red cloaks in the armory. I can help you find your gear. I know my way around this place.”
“How do you know so much about this hideout?” Xander asked.
Errich looked to everyone and smiled. “Because I used to be a Redbrand.”
“You mind explaining that?” Xander said unsure about whether or not he could trust Errich anymore.
“I’m not proud of my past,” Errich began. “About two moons ago, I came to visit Aunt Qelline when I was approached by the Redbrands. I was low on coins so I decided to join them. Whatever money I gained went to help Aunt Qelline and Carp. They never suspected anything—and I plan to keep it that way.”
“What made you leave the Redbrands?” Randal asked.
“Someone in the ranks tried to set me up. I later found out it involved the barmaid, Elsa, from the Stonehill Inn.”
Everyone looked at each other.
“One of the Redbrands apparently became jealous that Elsa and I were having a tryst…”
“No offense,” Sildar interrupted. “But…well…you’re a halfling. She’s a human woman.”
Errich’s smile said it all. “Many women have said that I’m quite gifted, if you will.”
“Elsa likes being showered with gifts, apparently,” Xander remarked.
Errich gave the sailor a strange look. “What do you mean?”
“Nothing,” Xander said quickly. “Just thinking out loud.”
“So whomever was jealous of my affairs with Elsa,” Errich continued. “went to Glasstaff and managed to convince him to have me killed. I barely managed to escape with my life. I would have stayed away, but I became concerned over Aunt Qelline and Carp. So, I chose to return to Phandalin.”
“I suppose we should be thankful you did,” Randal said.
“I just want to make whoever tried to have me killed pay for what he’s done,” Errich said.
Errich went to the armory and returned with enough red cloaks for everyone to wear. They then walked past the skeletons and into the armory where they were able to equip themselves with longswords and light crossbows. Unfortunately there weren’t any armor in the armory for them to use.
They decided to take Mirna and her family to the cellar. There, they had the family escape outside, giving them specific instructions to head to the Alderleaf Farm for safety.
After, they made their way back to the secret staircase which led to Iarno’s quarters.
Not wanting to risk being spotted by anyone, especially Iarno’s rat which Errich told them was the wizard’s familiar, it was decided that only Errich and Xander should enter Iarno’s quarters to see if their equipment was there.
It turned out that Iarno was not in his room.
Errich told Xander that the wizard liked to stay up late and would gamble away the night with the other Redbrands in the common room.
Errich and Xander returned ladened with the group’s equipment. Xander also grabbed a letter off of Iarno’s writing table. The letter was addressed to Iarno and signed with the image of a black spider.
He read the letter to the group.
My spies in Neverwinter tell me that strangers are due to arrive in Phandalin. They could be working for the dwarves. Capture them if you can, kill them if you must, but don’t allow them to upset our plans. See that any dwarven maps in their possession are delivered to me with haste.
I’m counting on you, Iarno. Don’t disappoint me.
The group decided to take on the bugbears in their barracks before confronting the other Redbrands in the common room.
Errich led the way to the bugbears’ barracks.
The door was unlocked. From outside, they could hear the sounds of the humanoids snoring away.
Only Xander and Errich entered the barracks. The others kept watch in the hallway.
Across the hallway, they could hear the Redbrands gambling away or singing. Someone was plucking away unskillfully on Osric’s yartring.
A single lantern in the hallway spilled dim light inside the barracks.
Four roughly built wooden bunks with heaped up blankets and dirty dishes were scattered about the room.
A strong smell of unwashed bodies and rotten meat filled the air.
Three furry humanoids were sound asleep, the sounds of their snoring helping to mask Errich and Xander’s approach.
A small goblin lay on the floor in between two bunks. A small empty wooden bowl sat next to the goblin.
That must be Droop, Xander thought. The goblin had brought he and the others their food in the slave pens. Xander tried to convince the goblin, who by the looks of it had suffered under the hands of the Redbrands, to help him and the others.
The goblin promised to do what he could but seemed to fear for his life. Xander offered to help Droop escape if he helped.
The goblin, again, promised to do what he could but Xander wasn’t certain if the seemingly hopeless goblin had enough courage in him to stand up against his oppressors.
Droop reminded Xander of the people of Phandalin. Beat a goblin or an entire town into submission enough and they lose whatever ounce of hope for freedom they ever had.
Errich and Xander pointed to Droop and signaled for one another to leave him alone.
Xander stealthily made his way to stand next to a sleeping bugbear. The thing was wearing hides and smelled worse than a ship’s bilge. He raised his rapier and placed the tip of it to the bugbear’s throat.
He looked over at Errich, who stood next to another bugbear, his shortsword pointed at the thing’s throat.
Together, they both plunged their blades into the sleeping humanoids.
One didn’t die outright. It made enough noise to wake up Droop and the third bugbear.
Droop sat up, took one good look at Errich and Xander, then fainted.
The bugbear, however, wasn’t easily scared. It tried to reach for its morningstar, which was leaning against its bed, just as Xander tried to attack the bugbear.
The noise also attracted the Redbrands down the hall.
While Sildar remained in the hallway, Ghesh and Randal entered the bugbears’ barracks to join in the fight.
From down the hall, the door opened into the common room.
Sildar could see Iarno standing in the middle of the room surrounded by three Redbrands. Iarno held a scroll in one hand and his glass staff in the other.
The wizard was desperately trying to concentrate as he read from the scroll. Licks of flames spread across the paper as the arcane words vanished from the page, burning the paper with it.
Within seconds, nothing was left of the scroll.
To Sildar’s amazement, nothing happened. He expected Iarno to unleash a powerful spell down the hall, but nothing happened.
“No!” Iarno screamed in frustration. “That was a fireball spell!”
Errich slipped out of the room, seeing as how the others were faring well agains the remaining bugbear. He quickly made his way past Sildar as he ran up the stairs.
Sildar wondered where the halfling was going.
Meanwhile, the others had killed the last of the bugbears and pushed their way into the common room to fight against the Redbrands and Iarno.
During the battle with Iarno and the Redbrands, Errich quietly entered the common room through another door.
Iarno never saw or heard the halfling approach him from behind, his attention solely focused on the adventurers killing his men around him.
Errich stabbed Iarno in the back. The wizard fell to his knees. The surprised look on his face never left him, even in death.
“We’ve got company!” Sildar yelled from the hallway. The fighter was pointing up the stairs.
The others ran out of the room to confront the new threat.
Errich quickly made his way back the way he came.
When the halfling reached the cavern with the crevasse, he spotted Yarris with another Redbrand standing above the stairs leading down to the bugbears’ barracks. He kept to the shadows as the other Redbrand went down the stairs to face Sildar.
Errich loaded his crossbow and aimed for the unsuspecting Yarris.
His shot pierced the unsuspecting Yarris right through the heart. Blood gurgled out of the Redbrand’s mouth as he stumbled against the cavern’s cold wall.
Yarris slid down and slumped over. He was still alive, but barely, when Errich walked up to him.
Yarris looked at the halfling and tried to say something. Errich didn’t let him finish.
Errich shot him in the head.
Down the stairs, the remaining Redbrand did not fare any better.
To be continued…
Heroes and NPCs
Errich Alderleaf (5e Rogue: Criminal)
Ghesh Goldscale (5e Fighter: Soldier)
Randal Sunbringer (5e Paladin of Lathander: Acolyte)
Sildar Hallwinter (NPC)
Xander Wayfinder (5e Fighter: Duelist Sailor)