The Six were making their casual way down the King’s Road towards Winterhaven when they were suddenly beset by bandits. Dicks.
Nobody knows anything about Balgron but Melinda they know as a bandit leader operating somewhere nearby. Valthrun says that there’s a scholar he’s associated with out in the old dump digging up some stuff he thinks may be an old dragon skeleton.
The party goes out there and finds some shady characters accompanied by a literal shade. They try to lure the party into the pit and then attack. As the little gnome that’s apparently the leader dies he says to the shade, “I’m sorry I failed you Kalerel!!”
The party finds the trussed up Douven Staul, an archeologist associated with Valthrun. After freeing him he thanks them by giving them his locket, a powerful item of protection.
They also take a mirror that the evil gnome was brandishing. It’s a small mirror with a silver and platinum dragon eating it’s own tail as a frame.
During this encounter Thorfin was back in bed. He could not be roused at all no matter what the rest of the party tried. He had previously put on the ring found on Kenneth’s body and had the following dream:
As you fade into sleep you begin to dream…
You see yourself chopping wood outside a small cottage. The air is fresh and the sun is out. The feel of the axe in your hands is comforting. The very act of doing good, solid work feels right.
You have a feeling that you’re working towards something. That things are right with the world. You can “see” , in a dream sense, that something is coming over the horizon. Something good. Intensely good.
As you bring the head of the axe down on another log you feel the presence of the person you love more than anything standing next to you.
As you raise your head you can feel a pall come over the world. The sun is slightly less bright, the flowers in the meadow next to the cottage are a bit faded and the buildings seem slightly ramshackle.
You hear the voice of the woman you love calling your name. You look up into her face. You can see the beauty there, black locks of hair falling across her eyes, shapely figure and those eyes… But something is very wrong. Storm clouds gather at the edge of your vision.
Her arms are horribly scarred and there is blood dripping from her nose. On one cheek you can see a dark smudge. It doesn’t appear to be a bruise but rather a mark of some sort.
Hearing the plaintive sound of her voice is like a dagger in your heart. You finally notice that her hands are covered in dark, congealed blood.
Dropping the axe you try to reach out to her. Suddenly dark, ghostly shapes swirl from out of the distant clouds, impossibly fast, to interject themselves between you and your love. They encircle her, mad cackling that sounds like the clatter of dry bones accompanied by the wet sounds of flesh unbound from its skin block out the words you can tell she is now trying to scream at you.
The dark shapes enfold her. They begin to drag her under the very earth you are standing on. Horror, the likes of which you’ve never felt, grips your heart and you can’t make a single move to stop it nor can you even close your eyes or look away.
As her grasping, blood soaked hands flail towards you and just before her eyes are buried by the roiling soil you see one of the black phantoms embed itself into the smudge on her cheek.
It glows an unearthly red and coalesces into the shape of a death’s head with giant ram’s horns jutting out.
After that you see that your love has been completely swallowed up by the rift in the ground.
The shacks are burnt and destroyed, the fields of flowers are a barren wasteland and the sky is a tumult of angry, black clouds from which, not thunderclaps but rather peals of ominous and hideous laughter emanate.
You look about you and despair.
Then….You wake up.
The party goes back to Winterhaven. Padraig, the leader of the town, asks the party to investigate the bandit camp somewhere nearby. Asking about the tavern they find out that the elf hunter Ninaran thinks the bandits are likely holed up in a cave behind a waterfall. She gives them directions and they head out to kick some ass.
Just outside the town walls the bandits attack again. They taunt the Six saying, “You will contribute to our lady’s dowry!” and also claiming justice for the deaths of those others that ambushed them on the way in to town.
The party kicks their asses. But a lesson is learned by Lia. Namely, do not rush into the middle of an ambush when you’re not the strongest person in the party.