It's so very hot. My skin feels like it's burning!! Where am I? Who's that? A man whispers, "It's Sildar Hallwinter". He explains to me that I'm in a room he secured at the inn. "What inn?" I scream out. "The Stonehill Inn" he calmly states. Sildar goes on to explain that I was found just outside of town unconscious and barely alive. That was a week ago. My clothes, my hair, my face!! - all are covered in burns.
Now that I'm awake, a cleric comes in and lays his hands upon me and begins to pray. Within seconds, I can feel the healing powers take over and most of my damaged skin begins to heal. My clothing and my hair, he can do nothing to fix. Sildar pays the man and he leaves wishing us both well. After having a meal and some much needed water, I find a scissor and some powder and begin fixing myself up. I wonder where everyone else is? Oh lord, I hope they are ok…
Feeling an explosion behind him is the last memory Varrus has while traveling through the portal back to Phandalin of Toril. Then a burning. A very intense burning! What feels like seconds later, he is flung out of the portal into some woods. Unfortunate for Varrus, he strikes a tree without any way to brace for the impact. After collecting his thoughts and bandaging himself up a bit, he realizes he is a few thousand feet outside the town on Phandalin. Deciding the best course of action would be to search for the others, he heads off towards town.
Seeing some sort of battle ensue from the portal origin, Barc turns to head back and try to assist ShadowWeaver (who is trying to maintain the portal) and Narak. But it's too late. Seeing an apparent sneak attack on ShadowWeaver is followed by an intense explosion. Then all went black…for a few seconds. Next thing he knows Barc feels like he is on fire from the inside. Then a bright light nearly blinds him. A second later, Barc finds himself being hurled from the portal into the center of an inn. Smashing through a table and into the side of the main bar like a mage's fireball.
Being helped to his feet by the inn proprietor, Toblen Stonehill, Barc feels like he has been burned to a crisp! Toblen offers food, drink, and any other assistance he can. After Barc regains his senses, he makes his way to a sink to try and clean up a bit. On way back to the bar, a gnome approaches Barc asking if he can be of assistance. Talking a bit, both men head over to the bar and have a drink complements of Barc's new friend Midgert.
Moments into this discussion, both notice a warrior enter the inn. Barc recognizes the warrior as Varrus. He appears to have gone through a similar experience as Varrus has burns over his face and arms and a large welt on the side of his face. After a quick happy reunion talk and a gnome introduction, the group begins talking with the inn owner. They discover that nobody from the group has been seen in Phandalin for over 2 months! It's only been a couple of days as far as the group knows. What's going on?
After about 10 minutes or so, a commotion is heard just outside the inn, interrupting their conversation. People are gathering around something and screaming for help. Quickly Varrus, Barc, and Midgert rush outside to see what is going on. Pushing through the masses, they find a heap of what appears to be an extremely badly burned humanoid smoldering on the ground. Barc bending down to try to lend assistance, he sees the figure lift it's head trying to crawl. It's Bareic!! Reaching out, Barc sees the skin just melting off Bareic's arm and hand. After sharing a look of recognition, Bareic starts spitting up boiling hot blood from his mouth, collapses, and passes. There's nothing anyone could have done. He was too far gone.
After giving Bareic a proper burial just outside Phandalin, The group, along with their new friend Midgert, decide to search town for the 2 other missing party members Krystiana and Rekt. Midgert tells Varrus and Barc that he knows the layout of the town and offers to guide them in hopes of finding the missing party members.
Wandering about town finds the group no additional information other than reinforcing their familiarity with the town layout. The group does stop to replenish their rations and other supplies that were destroyed during their return. Heading back into the inn, Toblen (the innkeeper) tells them that Sildar Hallwinter was inquiring to the group's whereabouts. He directs the party to Sildar's room. Knocking upon the door, Varrus is informed by Sildar that he has found one of their party members. He warns that she is extremely upset, injured, and in rough mental condition. Varrus insists upon seeing her immediately. Sildar tells Varrus that she may not be ready to see anyone and will try to check with her. Varrus insists again to see her immediately. Things get a little tense. But eventually Varrus enters the room and sees Krystiana. She is wounded, her hair and face are burned. Krystiana cries when she sees Varrus. She asks about the rest of the group. After finding out that Bareic didn't survive the travel and Rekt as well as the boy Alexander are still missing, Krystiana wails out in tears. She says she can't do this any longer. She's not an adventurer. She cannot handle this. It's not the life for her. She tells the group that she will be staying behind at the inn.
Accepting that Krystiana is in no condition to leave, the party heads back downstairs. Overhearing talks of a blue man being beaten down by a Redbrand party, the heroes decide to head out east in the direction of the Redbrand hangout, the Sleeping Giant Inn.
The party heads down the eastern road. On the outskirts of town lies The Sleeping Giant Inn. A loud and rowdy place, the group immediately sees a few of the Redbrand Ruffians hanging outside the building on the porch. New member Midgert attempts to talk to them and try to get some information. They retort with a series of insults and threats. Not wanting to start too much trouble, Midgert backs down and walks away.
Continuing east not more than a thousand feet, more Redbrands approach. They are obviously looking to start trouble, demanding the party drop their belongings and be on their way. A fight begins. The new trio fights well together but are having troubles handling these foes. Things are looking bad when suddenly out of nowhere a few arrows come flying through the air, sinking deeply into the chest of one of the Redbrands, and dropping him instantly. Looking up, it's Krystiana! "I can't let you guys get yourselves killed" she says. With the morale boost of the group's "heart" returning and the skilled fighting of the new guy, our heroes take down all but one of the ruffians. This last once looks to strike a deal, offering information in return for sparing his life. The group tentatively agrees. They learn that there is a hideout of Redbrands inside the Tresendar Manor located on the very eastern edge of town. After receiving this information, Varrus immediately attempts to kill the cowardly Redbrand by shooting him with his crossbow. But he escapes via magical means of a sort. (A LITTLE HELP PLEASE?)
Armed with the knowledge of the hideout location, the party proceeds with the intent of stopping this group once and for all. Scouting the area from all around, the group eventually decides to enter through a window in the side of the manor. Inside, there is a thick layer of undisturbed dust on a mostly deserted floor. Some junk and a random chair or two are all there is to see here. Or is there something else? Midgert finds a secret door leading down.
Climbing down the barely usable ladder, the group find themselves in the cellar of the manor. There are kegs and barrels lining the walls. On the west wall is a cistern – a rectangular reservoir of flowing cold water. A door is seen to the right of the cistern.
Entering the door as quietly as their skill allows for, inside the group finds 3 Redbrands. Luckily for them, the ruffians are sleeping. After killing 1 in his sleep and holding another quiet, a small misstep triggers some unfortunate noise. Enough to wake the last Redbrand. After a struggle, he reaches for a small panel on the wall and presses. An alarm? A door lock? We don't know for sure. Whatever it was it didn't make any noise. Moments later, the Redbrands are defeated and killed. Barrels and crates are littered throughout the room.
Just as the party are leaving this room, they hear a loud creaking sound coming from somewhere within the building. Leaving the room, we decide to investigate another small tunnel we discovered in the east wall. Following for about 20 minutes this led to a metal grate just beneath the ground. A secret entrance / exit I guess. Returning to the cistern, our highly skilled new friend Midgert discovered a sliding panel in the wall. A secret door!! This is a tricky place for sure.
Entering this newly discovered area, a cold breeze fills this large natural cavern, carrying with it the faint scent of decaying flesh. A crevasse divides the cavern and is flanked by two rough stone columns that support the twenty-foot-high ceiling. Two arched wooden bridges span
the chasm. Entering slowly, I could swear I saw something moving up ahead in the dim torchlight. There it is again! A voice is filling my head…it's taunting me. How did it know that?? Does it know me? It can't possibly know that!!!