As they enter the town it’s around 5pm and the group finds the settlement seemingly well on its way to normality.
Some signs of destruction caused by the Redbrand’s arson three days ago are still visible, but that’s expected.
They make their way to the town’s square where people pass each other as they go about their day, and children play in the town green.
Some townsfolk recognize them and nod gratefully towards their way.
They check to see if Sister Garaele is by her shrine but find it empty, so they have to wait for a bit until she emerges from elsewhere.
Garaele greets them with a smile, happy to see them returned safely, and noticing Grunden she assumes the group’s quest to rescue their friend has been successful.
Brannus gives her a short version of what has happened.
He makes a point to mention the possibility of an attack on the town.
The Sister is very disturbed by the idea that Deepdale could be in further danger, and her mood changes to one of deep concern.
She informs the party that Sildar Hallwinter has returned from Greyhaven, and that the party should seek him out with these important news. He can be found in the town’s hall.
The party thanks her for that information and moves on.
From this point, the group splits.
Brannus and Grunden want to meet with Sildar immediately.
Sigmar, Kiara, and Dwolf decide instead to head to Linene’s store for information and gear.
Approaching the Lionshield Coster, the dwarves and the high elf are glad to find the store open.
They enter and to see Linene inside ready to receive customers.
She recognizes them and greets them warmly, becoming the group to tell her what she can help her with.
Sigmar does most of the talking, and he begins by talking about shields
He offers his old shield to Linene, saying that he does not need it anymore.
He then shows her the Sentinel shield and asks for an appraisal.
Linene is thankful for the donation, but mostly she is very impressed with the quality of the craftsmanship that Sigmar’s new shield presents.
All the while, Sigmar asks her if she has – or can obtain – weapons imbued with magical properties for sale.
Linene dismisses that possibility rather quickly. She is proud of the quality of the gear she sells, but the idea of even having magical items is beyond her.
Magical items might be purchased in a big city like Greyhaven, but even then they are very rare.
Finishing her appraisal of the shield, Linene points out that it is of great quality, clearly higher than what she can offer currently. She then adds that, if it’s magical (which Sigmar knows it is), the price is easily beyond her scale.
They exchange a few more pleasantries, but the conversation quickly reaches an end.
Led by Sigmar, they return to Stonehill Inn.
When they arrive at the inn, they are greeted by the usual barmaid which – recognizing them – heads inside to call for the innkeeper.
A few short seconds later, Toblen arrives.
The innkeeper greets the group warmly but very quickly – and unapologetically – explains that they left for an unexpectedly high amount of days, and left him with their open tab still to be paid.
He asks them to pay for the days they’ve rented rooms so fat, which the group does without any issue.
Sigmar throws an extra gold coin as a tip, a sign of generosity that makes Toblen very happy.
With the payment dealt with, the group settles down to relax with generous amounts of ale.
Meanwhile, Brannus and Grunden head to the town’s hall.
They walk right in and find the place quite different than the last time they where there.
The dreary, nearly abandoned, building is now bustling with young soldiers bearing the Haven’s Guard crest walking about, unpacking material and setting up gear everywhere.
Windows are open, and the afternoon’s light comes up giving the space a completely different feel.
Almost as soon as they walk in they are approached by a young soldier that welcomes them and asks them what is their business.
Brannus mentions that they are here to speak to Sildar.
The soldier bids them to accompany him further inside the building.
They walk to the large room that connects the mayor’s office to the rest of the building.
Waiting for a bit, while their presence is being announced, Brannus can’t help but notice that the door the party had used in the past to access the town’s makeshift jail is now properly guarded by a soldier.
In effect, the space seems alive with efficiency and competence.
After a few seconds, the soldier beckons them in to the mayor’s office.
The room itself does not look that different apart for a few critical changes:
An immense pile of paperwork now rests on the table.
Sildar is there sitting at the desk, and there is no sign at all of Harbin Wester.
Sildar rises from his chair as the pair enters the room, and seeing Grunden his demeanor changes for one of obvious relief and happiness.
The two men are very happy to see each other and share a moment of kinship between them.
He then greets Brannus and exchanges a few short pleasantries before shifting the conversation straight to business.
Sildar has arrived in town about a day ago and has been somewhat apprised of the situation in Deepdale in part by the townsfolk, but mostly by Daran Edermath.
He is aware that the Redbrand threat has been dealt with.
He knows, much to his dismay, that at the heart of the Redbrand gang was the one person he had hoped was here in town doing his best to help: Iarno Albrek.
This betrayal had a visible effect on Sildar as his demeanour darkens as he mentions it.
Brannus speaks openly and provides Sildar with a full account of the party’s travels and discoveries.
The cleric presents Sildar with the document the party found in what they assumed was Iarno’s study deep within the ruined manor here in Deepdale.
Sildar takes it, and reads it.
As he finishes he loudly calls out a name: “ALEF!”
After a few short seconds, the young soldier that had received Brannus and Grunden shows up.
Sildar passes the letter to him and instructs the soldier to focus on the symbol of the black hand that serves as a signature, has he wants to know who or what they are.
Brannus discusses their incursion to the Cragmaw’s castle, finding Grunden, and possibility of an attack on the town by a force of weird goblin creatures like the one they faced.
The cleric’s report concerns Sildar, but for a moment he focuses on Grunden wanting to know how he is, and what he’s been through.
Grunden retells his ordeal after their ambush on the Boar trail and assures Sildar that he is doing well.
He speaks of the villains attempt to obtain his map detailing the location of the mythical Wave Echo cave, and praises the party’s heroism in his rescue.
Sildar pressures him on the point of the map, worried about its location, but Grunden assures him it is safe. From the start he only carried a decoy and never had it in his person in the first place.
The map is safe with Grunden’s brothers, Tharden and Nundro.
When Grunden mentions his brothers Sildar asks him where they are, and the dwarf explains that, apart from their quest to locate the mine, they have reason to believe that to the south there is an abandoned dwarven city under the mountain in which stands a great altar to the dwarven god Dumathoin, The Mountain Shield.
His brothers are in a hidden canyon at the mouth of what they believe is the entrance to this city.
Meanwhile, during this conversation, Daran arrives and greets everyone.
He is pleased to see that Brannus has returned safely.
Sildar now tells details of his visit to Greyhaven, and explains how he was able to return with a small garrison to help Deepdale.
He has assumed Harbin’s position, sending the old useless mayor home.
He is currently in the process of asserting the Guard’s position in town.
He shares with Brannus any and all messages he had pertaining to their situation.
With the long summary of the current situation concluded it is now time to decide what to do next.
Sildar determines that their priorities are as follows:
Locate Grunden’s brothers are guarantee their safety.
Make sure the map that exposes the location of the Wave Echo cave does not fall into the wrong hands.
Keep Deepdale safe from this alleged strike force, and all hostile groups that seem to be roaming the country side (from goblins to orcs).
At this point each item seem to be of equal importance so the old warrior does not favor one more than the others, but he does point out that he really needs the party’s help.
He pleads Brannus (and, indirectly, the rest of the party) to help him, Deepdale, and Grunden, to do what it is necessary.
Brannus acquiesces his request, and asks if it is possible to take some of the soldiers with them.
Sildar, unfortunately, denies him his request: he is already under-staffed for the current level of threat they are facing, and the fact that he truly needs the party’s help is one clear sign of this.
They debate for a few minutes more, and reach the decision that the first order of business should be to travel to where Grunden’s brothers are escort them back to town safely.
With business almost concluded they begin their goodbyes, but just as they are about to leave Sildar stops Brannus to mention something he almost forgotten:
He tells him to thank his cleric friend for his help at Old Owl Well.
This puzzles Brannus: which friend? What about Old Owl Well?
Sildar recaps the tale Brannus, and the party, had heard of trouble reported by miners in Old Owl Well.
But this time it seems that there’s news about a cleric of Heironeous being there.
Sildar seems to have assumed that this was Sigmar.
Brannus confusedly denies knowledge of this, which upsets Sildar somewhat, and the conversation ends abruptly as they find themselves at a loss for words, and they part ways.
Brannus and Grunden head to the inn and find Sigmar, Dwolf, and Kiara in the common room eating and drinking.
They gather around the table and share what has happened in the past few hours.
Everyone seems to be in agreement with the plan of heading out to seek Grunden’s brothers.
The party relaxes together for a while longer, but eventually they all retire to their rooms and rest.
Morning comes peaceful and the group is greeted with an unfortunate gray and rainy day.
It is not the best weather for traveling, but they head out regardless.
They exit Deepdale southwards, through what the locals call the miner’s trail.
As they do, they walk by the Miner’s Exchange and wonder about Halia Thornton and her shady proposition of money for the head of the Redbrands and their cache of documents.
They walk for a few hours as the path winds through farmlands and humble homesteads.
Eventually the party begins a steady climb up a hill, and in the distance they see a tall windmill.
Grunden pauses by the wayside of the trail and begins pointing to rock formations that can be seen by the mill.
They are not natural formations, but stone cairns where dead dwarves have been interred.
He recalls that this place is called Umbrage hill, the site of a major battle between feuding dwarves clans in ages past.
As he tells the story, pointing out that it’s a sign that they are getting near their destination, the party begins to notice some unnatural sounds being propagated by the wind, through the rain.
Looking closely they notice that some sort of large creature seems to be jumping at the mill, as if to attack it.
From this distance it is hard to tell what it is, but it seems large.
Fearing that someone might be in danger, the party decides to approach the mill.
Walking closer noises of grunting and growling become more evident, until finally they see the creature:
A four-legged beast, with the body of a lion, a spiked tail, dragon-like wings, and a somewhat humanoid head.
Dwolf recognizes the large monstrosity as being a manticore.
It growls at the party, and the group decides to attack.
The manticore keeps some distance, pelting the party with spikes from its tail.
Sigmar charges in, and is quite hurt in the fray.
Dwolf and Brannus stay safely at range, firing spells, arrows, and bolts.
Kiara also stays behind, casting her eldritch blast, but is unable to avoid some of the spikes shot her way.
Not long after it started, though, the battle ends with the party victorious.
With the creature dead, the group approaches the mill.
They walk around it, through the almost completely gone ruins of and ancient house once annexed to the mill, they eventually see the main door. It is closed and seems barred.
Dwolf calls for someone to answer.
An older lady appears in second-floor window, and seeing the adventurers goes back in.
A short minute later, she opens the door.
The old lady thanks the party profusely for their help, the manticore had been causing some trouble for quite some time, and she had no means to deal with it.
Prompted by the puzzled party she introduces herself as Adabra Gwynn, a midwife and apothecary with ties to Deepdale.
She resides in the mill, which she uses to prepare all matter of potions and concoctions that she then sells to the townsfolk and travelers.
The party is somewhat suspicious of the hermit, but they warm up to her as she provides Sigmar and Kiara with some healing.
Seeing that potions of healing are some of the wares she provides, Sigmar asks for the individual prices, but is uninterested by them because of how high they are.
Still a bit short of breath from the fight, and with the rain still falling outside, the group ask Adabra if they can stay for a while a take a short rest.
She welcomes them to it, and leads the group to the first floor where they make themselves comfortable in the small living room they find.