2 Flamerule, Year of the Warrior Princess (1489 DR)
The Sword Coast
In the city of Neverwinter, a dwarf named Gundren Rockseeker asked Ghesh Goldscale and Randal Sunbringer to help safely deliver a wagonload of provisions to the rough-and-tumble settlement of Phandalin, a couple of days’ travel southeast of the city.
Gundren was clearly excited and a little bit secretive about his reasons for the trip, saying only that he and his brothers had found “something big” and that he was willing to pay both Ghesh and Randal ten gold pieces each for escorting his supplies to Barthen’s Provisions, a trading post in Phandalin.
Gundren then set out ahead of the wagon on horse, along with a warrior escort named Sildar Hallwinter, claiming he needed to arrive early to “take care of business”.
Ghesh was the first to spot two travelers walking along the middle of the road.
The two were still about a hundred yards ahead of the wagon, but Ghesh didn’t want to take any chances. He jumped off and walked alongside the single ox pulling the wagon.
Travarr, a old human man Gundren had hired to drive the wagon to Phandalin, slowed the wagon down to a crawl.
Randal, too, left the wagon and looked around for signs of any others who may be hiding. “Could be an ambush, Ghesh. Stay alert.”
Both drew their blades, ready for anything.
Osric and Xander heard the wagon coming up behind them.
They turned around and saw three people on a wagon being pulled by an ox. While two were human, the third was clearly a dragonborn; an uncommon sight outside most large cities.
One of the humans was an old wagon-driver by the looks of the commoner’s clothes he wore. The other human, however, was armed with a longsword and carried a steel shield emblazoned with a fiery golden sun. He wore a suit of chainmail which protected him from head to foot.
The dragonborn had a battle axe in his right hand. A second battleaxe was visible, strapped on his back. He too, wore a suit of chainmail.
“Could be bandits,” Xander warned but he didn’t draw his rapier.
Osric raised his hand in greeting as the dragonborn and human began walking towards them both. “If they’re bandits, we’re in for a fight. They’re well armed and armored.”
“Well met travelers,” Ghesh said as he and Randal approached to within thirty feet of the two. His scaled browridge rose when he realized that one of the travelers was a half-elf. Uncommon as they were, he could count on his one hand the number of times he had met a half-elf.
Osric and Xander introduced themselves and asked where the trio were headed. In turn, Ghesh and Randal introduced themselves and explained that they were headed to the town of Phandalin which was still about thirty or so miles southeast of where they were.
Xander went on to explain that he and Osric were looking for work to earn some coins as they made their way to Waterdeep. When asked, Randal admitted he didn’t know where he was headed beyond helping deliver the wagon to Phandalin. However, he said he was on a personal quest as a paladin to spread the knowledge of Lathander, the god of birth and renewal. Ghesh, it seemed, had business in Waterdeep as well.
Randal offered to have Xander and Osric join them on their way to Phandalin.
By late afternoon on the second day of their journey since having left Neverwinter, the group now four strong, along with the wagon driver, veered east along the Triboar Trail. They were fortunate not to have encountered any trouble so far, but they knew well enough how dangerous the territory could be.
Both Ghesh and Randal decided to walk next to the wagon.
Xander and Osric meanwhile enjoyed the ride on the wagon full of supplies, which seemed to be composed of various mining supplies and food.
Travarr proved to be a fair enough companion on the High Road. He spoke mostly of his failed marriages and kept offering sips to everyone from his flask containing a strong wine which had a smoky, nutty flavor to it. Osric and Xander were just happy to be able to ask for more water to fill their wineskins.
Suddenly an arrow thunked into the front of the wagon just below where Travarr sat.
“To arms!” Ghesh yelled. Before he could draw both batteaxes, a small green-skinned humanoid dressed in ragged leather armor and wielding a rusted scimitar and shield ran out from behind a nearby boulder. With a wild scream, it rushed at the dragonborn who sidestepped the humanoid’s attempt to cut his stomach open.
Randal screamed in pain as an arrow buried itself into his back. From a nearby bush, a creature—a goblin, he was certain, for he spoke their vile language—rushed out of hiding and tried to attack Xander who was sitting next to Travarr on the wagon. Fortunately, the goblin found it difficult to attack someone almost out of his reach.
Osric, who was taking a nap near the back of the wagon, suddenly woke up upon hearing Ghesh sound the alarm. He spotted Randal nearly doubled over in pain. A black-feathered arrow was sticking out of the paladin’s back.
He quickly sang a short aria. Randal heard the bard and felt the soothing tones of his aria flow through him. Despite the arrow still stuck in his back, the bard’s song helped ease the pain.
The battle continued for almost a minute.
When it was over, Ghesh lay unconscious on the ground. He was alive, but barely. Fortunately, Osric was able to staunch the flow of blood after a goblin had cut him down. Even Randal had suffered wounds from the goblin ambush. However, he was able to call upon the blessings of Lathander to heal himself.
In the the end, three goblins lay dead. One had gotten away and fled northeast.
After tending to their wounds and placing Ghesh on the wagon, they searched the goblins. They considered taking the creatures’ weapons and armor to sell in Phandalin, but Travarr told them the goblins’ equipment were worthless: patched up leather armor, rusted scimitars, and bows on the verge of breaking were not likely to earn them even a copper piece. The goblins’ arrows, however, seemed to be sharp enough to use. So they decided to take those. They then buried the goblins together in a shallow grave not far from the road.
With no priest or healing potions, and Ghesh still unconscious, the group decided to continue on the Triboar Trail and find a suitable campsite before they lost daylight.
But as they came around a bend on the trail, they spotted two dead horses sprawled on the path, blocking it. Each had several black-feathered arrows sticking out of it. The woods nearby pressed close to the trail, with a steep embankment and dense thickets on either side.
“Another perfect place for an ambush,” Randal said as he went with the others to investigate the grisly scene. “These horses belonged to Gundren Rockseeker and Sildar Hallwinter. I’m sure of it. Looks like they’ve been dead about a day.”
“The saddlebags have been looted,” Osric said. “They’re all empty.”
Xander discovered a leather map case lying on the side of the trail, not far from the dead horses. “It’s empty,” he said showing it to the others.
After further inspecting the area, they learned that the goblins seemed to have been using the place to stage some ambushes for quite some time.
They also found a path on the north side of the trail. It led northeast.
They also learned that about a dozen goblins had come and gone along the trail, as well as signs of two human-sized bodies having been hauled away from the ambush site.
“What do we do now?” Randal asked everyone. “The goblins have taken Gundren Rockseeker and Sildar Hallwinter. We need to find them!”
“How do we even know if they’re still alive?” Xander asked.
“There doesn’t seem to be much blood here,” Osric offered. “They could have been overwhelmed by force, knocked unconscious, or taken captive. It’s all very tragic indeed.”
“Listen everyone,” Xander said. “Ghesh is hurt and needs healing or at the very least, rest. And we don’t have much sunlight left in the day to go tracking down goblins.”
“He has a point,” Osric conceded.
“I say we continue on to Phandalin, deliver the wagon, and then come back,” Xander offered. “Maybe we can even find help in town.”
“How far till we reach Phandalin?” Randal asked Travarr.
“We’re still about a day’s travel out,” Travarr said. “We’ll need to stop soon. Old Bess needs to rest for the day.”
“Bess,” Osric inquired. “Wasn’t that the name of your fifth wife, if memory serves?”
“Aye,” Travarr replied. “The old ox here reminds me of her girth and stubborn nature.”
“Horns too?” Osric couldn’t resist. Travarr only smiled back.
“Let’s make camp and discuss our plans,” Xander proposed. “Hopefully Ghesh will recover after a night’s rest. We can decide what to do in the morning.”
Everyone agreed that with night coming, they would indeed have to wait until the morning to decide what to do.
Xander Wayfinder (Human Fighter, Sailor)