Thorn has just been named the winner of Fallcrest’s Annual Cross City Race by Lord Faren Markelhay. However, as soon as the grand celebration is about to begin, guards flood the chamber and circle around the members of Just the Tip present in Moonstone Keep’s grand hall, Thorn, Ky, and Beltumal. Grok, once he threw the knife to trip up Gareth Cooper, has disappeared from sight and no one seems to know where he is.
The guards are led by the Fallcrest Guard Sergeant Murgeddin. He informs the present members of the Tip that they have been accused by Grifnar for the unlawful theft of his merchandise, and for failing to complete their contracted task of transporting goods to Hammerfast. The heroes are rightly incensed by this accusation, especially considering their past encounter with Grifnar, but Murgeddin grants the group the evening to enjoy the celebration, and deal with the issue in the morning with the Magistrate. Thus, they must remain in the keep under guard until morning.
Beltumal steps aside and speaks to Dorian Light-Step at the party. Beltumal offers congratulations on Dorian’s good show in the race, and, due to his shame at deceiving the poor young elf earlier, apologizes for his earlier transgression. He then stumbles clumsily into asking Dorian for a few favors. Unfortunately due to the increased security, Dorian can only offer his help and sources for one task, and Bel requests that Aldanian be told that Just the Tip wishes to speak with him to discuss their current predicament. Dorian, while still flirting with the awkward Dragonborn, leaves to carry out Beltumal’s request.
Meanwhile, Quinn finds himself heading towards the Temple district, and is in search of some herbal compounds to sooth his anxiety and stress after the day’s events. Quinn’s search for a purveyor of such herbal substances resulted in a red-headed Halfling beckoning for Quinn to come forward. The Halfling was offering mushrooms of a similar quality to what Quinn was searching for, and after some negotiation, the Halfling agreed to offer him a fair price for the mystical mushrooms. He turned and went down an alleyway, saying he needed to count them out, and that Quinn should come to verify the quality of the product. Quinn pursued the Halfling down the alleyway, and as soon as he entered the darkened passageway, two burly Orcs stepped from the shadows and blocked the entrance to the alley, and 2 large humans came up to flank the Halfling, all staring menacingly at Quinn.
Quinn takes a moment to assess the situation, and then calmly asks how much the mushrooms will cost. The Halfling smirks wickedly and pulls a knife out of his pocket “how about 100 gold pieces for your life instead?” Quinn nods and quickly blesses his sword as the would-be thieves move forward to flank Quinn. No time is wasted as Quinn focuses his fury upon the Halfling. No matter how hard the brigands try, none can land a blow against Quinn, and he quickly incapacitates the Halfling first, and then moves to one of the human bodyguards. The Orcs see where the situation is heading, and quickly retreat, attempting to escape the mighty Paladin’s blows. The human guard unengaged with Quinn begins to turn and run, and as Quinn takes down the guard, the fleeing man yells “The River Rats will never forget this!”
Quinn allows the remaining brigand to flee, collects the 50gp from the unconscious Halfling’s body, and picks up a vial of white powder, and a container of liquid which smells reminiscent of the fabled weed he sought out. He then heads to the House of the Sun to find Paul praying.
Back at the Keep, Beltumal speaks with Murgeddin to request that they leave the keep, under guard if they must, to seek the rest of their companions and inform them of what has transpired. Murgeddin initially denies the request, but Beltumal makes a rather convincing case at the possibility for the situation to get out of hand if armed city guards approach any of the remaining adventurers. Bel argues that it may serve to smooth things over if they see a familiar face, and thus prove less harmful to the City Guards. Murgeddin concedes to this logic, not wishing to risk his men if he can avoid it, but for only 1 member of the group. Beltumal agrees to the Sergeant’s terms and leaves with an armed escort to search for his companions.
Thorn, in all the hedonistic fervor he could muster, spent the entire evening and night with a wench in a spare room performing unmentionable acts, with screams and growls emanating from the room, in tones of both pleasure and pain. Ky stands guard outside the door, barely holding in the bile rising to her throat when Aldanian arrives to speak with the Tip. Ky explains the situation, and Aldanian promises to seek out others who might be able to help, and they will present themselves at the tribunal in the morning to make their case for the adventurers.
Beltumal and his escort of guards, led by Sgt. Murgeddin arrive at the House of the Sun to find Quinn and Paul in prayer. After explaining the situation, Grundelmar comes and speaks on their behalf to Murgeddin, who responds by cursing Grifnar’s name. The City Guard Sergeant turns to the adventurer’s and confides in them that Grifnar is not well liked around town, and if they can find a way to convince the Magistrate of their just intentions, it may be Grifnar who finds himself in trouble in the morning.
Quinn, Paul, and Beltumal stay the night in the temple, and upon leaving Quinn requests that Grundelmar hold onto his shielding blade for safe keeping, and Beltumal asks to have a message sent to Marla, wishing to speak with her at a more convenient time.
The entire group, with the notable absence of Daemon and Grok, arrive at the foot of Moonstone Keep to begin the tribunal. They notice, with no small amount of shock, that the crowd gathered this morning for the Tribunal is as big, if not larger, than the crowd for the Cross City race. Just the Tip see familiar faces throughout the crowd, all the racers from the day before, many, if not all of the shop keepers, and members of every temple in town. Quinn also notices 2 very familiar orcs who are glaring straight at Quinn. Quinn glares back with equal intensity.
A large platform has been built overnight it seems, with chairs and dividers set up on both sides, and a larger chair with high backing and cushions placed in the center. Grifnar and 3 of his nephews (who look as though they wish to be elsewhere) have already taken one side of the stage, and Just the Tip move to take their seats to begin the Tribunal.
Lord Markelhay comes forward to begin, and appoints Sir Oakley as the Magistrate for this particular dispute. Quinn recognizes Sir Oakley from portraits in the Radiant Order of the Silver Dragon strongholds he’s visited, and Beltumal recognizes the name as a hero of the order, a man of great honor and renown who is high ranking within the Order of Bahamut. Sir Oakley takes his place upon the center seat and begins the proceedings. Grifnar’s accusations are presented before all assembled, and Sir Oakley asks Grifnar to make his case. The crowd generally seems to be on Just the Tip’s side.
Grifnar describes the deal he struck with the adventurers, how he requested they take his goods to Hammerfast, and escort his nephew on the way. However, Just the Tip stopped in Silvergrail and left it there. His nephew was then attacked by bandits on his way back from Silvergrail. To add to this outrage, on their return to Fallcrest, they demanded a reward, even though they did not finish their task, and stole ten thousand gold pieces worth of masterwork weapons and supplies, most of which he was planning on donating to the City Guard. Sir Oakley then turned to Just The Tip for their rebuttal.
The Tip began by stating their agreement with Grifnar was to take the shipment to Silvergrail, which they accomplished, and that the nephew who appeared injured was not the nephew they escorted, and Ky noticed that this nephew’s injury did not seem as bad as Grifnar was saying. Once this was called into dispute, Grifnar agreed to having his nephew’s arm looked at, and asked Nimozaran the Green to inspect the injury. Just The Tip, while trusting that Nimozaran was an honest man, wanted to choose someone as a second opinion on the matter. They requested the Dwarven Cleric from Tam’s Talons to inspect the arm. While Just The Tip was certain of Ky’s vision and ability to detect that Grifnar’s nephew’s arm was not broken, they needed the crowd to doubt it from an unrelated source. The adventuring Cleric looked over the young dwarf’s arm, and proclaimed that it appeared broken to him. This shocked Just The Tip, and immediately they became suspicious of Tam’s Talons of intentionally trying to sabotage them. Beltumal even went so far as to try and detect if any arcane tampering was placed on the cast, but could sense no magical interference. Thankfully, Nimozaran’s assessment was more in their favor, where he believed the arm to only be bruised, and hardly broken.
Sir Oakley decided to continue with the tribunal, and bring the topic back to the issue at hand; the incomplete quest and theft of property. Beltumal tried to be as diplomatic as possible in detailing how the events unfolded, with Ky providing details as far as intention and her excellent marksmanship. They disputed the claim that the weapons were as high of quality as Grifnar claimed, and while they could not confirm his intentions, they certainly made their case in regards to what the agreed compensation was.
It was at this point that Sir Oakley asked if anyone from the crowd had anything to say about the adventuring group in either their defense or as accusation. From the crowd, Lannar Thistleton yelled out how those on the stage were of a good sort, but, “where’s that mother-fucker who stole my horse! He should be locked in chaaaaaains!” It was at this point that Just The Tip looked at one another, realized they never returned the horse, that they in fact lost the horse, and that Grok was still nowhere in sight to account for his actions. Ky deftly handled the situation by assuring that they would search for the horse at the earliest possible convenience, and if anyone would be able to track it down, it was our adventuring group.
From the crowd came another call, as Aldanian, Grundelmar, and Marla approached the stand to recount how the adventurers are known across the Nentir Vale as heroes, and have helped countless people in their travels. They stressed how this particular act was completely out of character for the group, and that it was much more likely that Grifnar was looking to cover a failing of his own. To which many more citizens spoke up about Grifnar’s lack of consideration, and active hostility towards his neighbors. Aldanian and company vouched for Just The Tip, and assured the Magistrate there was no way they would actively pursue such actions without just cause.
At the end of this exchange, with Grifnar looking positively furious as he is now backed into a corner, a huge plume of smoke appeared close to the platform, with sparks and flames sputtering forth from the center, and once the smoke settled and cleared, Daemon and Grok stand before everyone, with weapons drawn and ready for a fight, yelling out “Stop at once! We’ve come for our comrades and we won’t let you take them!”
As soon as the Tip see Daemon and Grok through the smoke, ready for battle, they jumped into action. Beltumal dived from the platform straight at Daemon, and tackled him to the ground, Paul followed suit to add his weight and hold Daemon down as well. Quinn meanwhile quickly moved to bring Grok down, but the half-orc deftly side-stepped the Paladin, letting Quinn fall to the floor. It was at this point that Grosh, the half-orc from the previous day and a member of Tam’s Talons, confronted Grok to calm him, exclaiming “Look! Your friends were doing fine without you, just like they usually do!” It was at this point that Grok looks around at the situation, and slowly sheaths his daggers.
Sir Oakley calls for order, and gets all the members of Just The Tip to come back to the platform to allow the Tribunal to continue, while Ky tries to use the interruption to their advantage, as an example of how we keep one another in check. “While we may be quite the band of characters, some more than others, we generally mean well and hold to our agreements.”
Sir Oakley turns to Grifnar, asking if the Dwarf has anything to say to these accusations. The grouch snarls out half-hearted proclamations about being an upstanding member of society, and other jibberish before he finally gives up and rests his case.
Sir Oakley nods and reveals his ruling. He judges in Just the Tip’s favor, agreeing that they completed the task that was mutually agreed upon between Grifnar and the group, and that they should be paid the amount that is due to them, the 5,000 gp, but the remaining goods in the wagon should be returned to Grifnar, as it is rightfully his property. Grifnar begins to smile, knowing he has at least gotten something out of this humiliating ordeal.
However, before the dwarf can say anything about this arrangement, Beltumal speaks up from Just the Tip’s corner. He agrees that Sir Oakley has ruled fair, and that there are no hard feelings between Just The Tip and Grifnar, who was clearly concerned about the merchandise, which he swore during the Tribunal in front of nearly the entire city, was to be donated to the City Guard. “While much of what Grifnar has said during these proceedings is likely false,” Beltumal begins, “we feel he was genuine with his gracious and generous donation to the City Guards. And so, of course the remaining items in our possession from Grifnar’s cart should be given to the City Guard.”
Sir Oakley nods, the barest of smiles appearing, and turns to Grifnar. “Is this acceptable to you?”
The clenching of Grifnar’s teeth could almost be heard across the square, but he begrudgingly agrees to the terms, although there was little he could do to refuse it.
Just The Tip offers their thanks to Grifnar, Ky even so much as offering her hand to the Dwarf, to which he spits out a racial-slur towards Ky, and promises that the Tip will regret crossing him one day. He walks off the platform with his nephews in tow.
Just the Tip speaks with Sir Oakley and Nathan Faringray, who congratulates and also thanks the adventurer’s for the ruling in the tribunal and the equipment his new recruits will now receive. He also brings forward an issue he hopes Just the Tip can assist him with; Winterhaven has sent a request for troops to help guard against Orcish raids occurring near the city’s border. Captain Faringray’s City Guards are already spread too thin, and asks if Just the Tip would be willing to represent Fallcrest in this endeavor. The group readily agrees and bids Nathan farewell as they bring their attention to Sir Oakley.
As it turns out, Sir Oakley is seeking a group of adventurers to escort him to Gardmore Abbey, his ancestral home, to clear out the evil they may find there, and help restore it to its rightful prominence. The adventurers agree to escort the aging Knight, but request they finish some business within Fallcrest and investigate the issue with Winterhaven before moving onto the Abbey, as they are concerned regarding the well-being of Winterhaven’s citizens. Sir Oakley has no issue with this delay, and is happy to accompany them wherever they travel.
Thorn and Ky begin their search for Lannar Thistleton’s missing horse while the rest of the group go about their preparations to leave the city. Thorn is able to track the charger to a warehouse. It certainly doesn’t look like the place where a horse would wander on its own, and suspecting foul-play, Ky looks through a window above the front door to peer inside, and spots the horse, along with Barstromun Strongbeard and other men, presumable members of the porter’s guild.
Fearing this situation could take a turn for the worst, Thorn calls for some birds to send a message to the rest of the group to arrive at the warehouse. Once the entire group arrives, Grok attempts to sway the guard at the entrance, saying he knows Barstromun and to let the group in so we can speak with the man. This fails. Beltumal then steps up, and mildly threatens the guard about something relating to fire and burning the warehouse down. The guard laughs this time and shuts the small eye-grate. Finally, Daemon walks towards the door, summons a fireball in his hand, lifting it up to the eye grate and knocking on the door again. The guard, this time seeing the fearsome, devilish light in the Tiefling’s eyes finally opens the door, directing them to Barstromun.
The group enters, asking Barstromun if they could reclaim the stolen horse which Grok lost, so they may return it to its rightful owner. Barstromun pretty much says no. Ky is able to spot a brand on the horse, an “FS” for Fallcrest Stables, but Barstromun doesn’t back down for a second, and twists a fancy yarn about how the brand actually stands for “Farstromun Strongbeard”, an alias of his. Beltumal must finally ask what it would take to get the horse back, which Strongbeard unabashedly says 125 gold pieces. Beltumal has never met Barstromun before, but he’s encountered enough people like him in Diyun to know how his kind operates. He begins to broker a deal with Strongbeard regarding trade routes to Sarthel, and possibly even Diyun to the far South. This piques Barstromun’s mercantile interest, and agrees to let the horse go for 125 gp, but offers a 1% commission on every wagon-load which travels to Sarthel after a month of expenses. The group haggles the rate up to 5%, and a deal is struck, written and signed by Barstromun himself right there in the warehouse. All that’s left is for Just The Tip to establish the trade route.
After returning the charger to the Fallcrest Stables, Lannar was so grateful he was willing to give the group a deal on horses, and thus the adventurers purchased 5 horses at a discounted price. Quinn and Thorn devised a plan to save some money, and Thorn had himself injured by the returned charger. Lannar was frightened by the wolfish visage of Thorn’s face after being hit by the charger, and requested the group leave. Beltumal and Ky tried to smooth things over, particularly for Thorn’s actions, and the group left on good, if uneasy, terms.
It was time the group offloaded much of their treasure for gold. They first traveled to All that Glitters and spoke once again with Dorian Light-Step about selling some gems. Beltumal had to, again, deal awkwardly with the flirty Dorian, and eventually was directed to Catseye. After viewing the gems, her and the group began to speak of adventures they’ve been on, and what they had seen. She inquired to see if they ever met a man who goes by the name Karl, who has a scar across one of his eyes. When the group doesn’t recall anyone by that name, she asks if they could keep an eye out for him. The group tries to press her for further information, but all she’ll say in a rather forlorn tone, is that he is just someone who took something from her and she wishes it to be returned.
Once the heroes agree to her quest, Catseye is willing to purchase all their gems at market value. As they leave, Beltumal tries to see if Dorian is able to take their jewelry in the store, unfortunately Dorian took this to mean it was being offered to him as a gift from Beltumal, for which the Dragonborn tried to clarify his actual intention was to sell Dorian the item. Suffice to say, Dorian was not pleased, and the group left with Beltumal sputtering for some form of response to make things better, and failing miserably.
They continued on to Naerumar’s Imports where they show Orest Naerumar, the proprietor, the jewelry they possess and Paul’s mirror. At first, Orest is unsure of the worth of such items, but recognizes that they are old, even ancient. Beltumal inspects the items and recognizes the designs and symbols of the Nerathi Empire along all of the items. The mirror especially holds some arcane significance, perhaps as a scrying tool for a Wizard of the former empire. Orest becomes very interested in the mirror, and purchases both it and the silver necklace. Orest requests that the adventurers come back to him if they find anymore items with historical value.
Before leaving on their journey, Beltumal visits with Marla at the temple dedicated to Erathis to discuss any knowledge she may have of the Silverclaw clan and its history. Unfortunately she knows nothing at this point, but promises to look into the matter through her contacts, and requests that Beltumal come back to speak with her regarding what Just The Tip finds at Gardmore Abbey, as it was an important site to the Order of Bahamut, and she would like to know more about its fall. She also informs him that the Eladrin were allies of the Order during the Abbey’s prime, and that a garden may have interesting artifacts or clues as to their relationship.
The Tip finally moves on to Winterhaven with Sir Oakley, their new steeds cutting their travel time in half. Thorn transforms into a Charger horse, and Quinn hops on top of him to ride with the rest of the group. During their travels and in the middle of the night, they see from a distance Gardmore Abbey, and find dozens of campfires lit within and close to the Abbey’s walls. This sets the adventurer’s on edge, knowing they must return here at some point to clear the site of evil, yet there appears to be quite a bit of activity happening within the abbey’s walls.
Once the group arrives in Winterhaven, much to the excitement of the locals, they learn that the Orcish troubles the town is facing originates coincidentally from Gardmore Abbey. A band of Orcs seem to be harassing travelers on the King’s road.
The group advises Lord Padraig to send word back to Fallcrest that the situation may require more man-power after all, considering the number of campfires they saw on their way to Winterhaven. Lord Padraig also requested that they scout the Abbey to provide vital information, in case an attack is necessary or they must protect the town against a horde of Orcs. The adventurers decide that they will infiltrate the Abbey from the secret passage Sir Oakley knows of, and attempt to clear Gardmore Abbey of evil once and for all.