The wagon ride from Tilian to Thornbare proceeded without incident until the party reached the outskirts of the city. Stopped on the road by a Hand patrol, the paladin Rumla boldly divulged the illegal contents of the caravan’s cargo, consisting of some market goods mixed with contraband weapons. Startled and panicked, the man who had introduced himself as Brugha leapt to the attack. He was quickly dealt with and taken prisoner by the hundkin, who in the chaos and confusion allowed the party to depart with their cargo intact. After another tense moment with the guards at the city gate, the wagons were allowed to enter Thornbare.
Brugha’s companion, Valen, disclosed the identity of the prisoner as Ambrün, leader of the local rebel faction. Payment was made for the delivery of the weapons but Valen made it clear that the fate of the rebel movement was seriously called into question by the loss of its leader.
Rumla proceeded to the Temple of Pelor, where he met with one of the local priests, Brother Severus. He donated the remaining goods from the caravan to the Temple’s cause and pledged his support to their mission.
Meanwhile, the mysterious nomadic ranger Qwee fulfilled his duty to deliver an oilcloth-wrapped book to the local ‘herbalist’, Invictus. Invictus seemed surprised by both the book and its sender, Ilaron, and rewarded Qwee with a number of mysterious colored bottles and the promise to help him in any way that he could in the future.
On their way to the local inn, the party met with an unpleasant halfling beggar on the street. Calling himself Eliathan, he alternately threatened and cajoled the party for information on who they were and what their business in Thornbare might be. Finally cowed, he ended up providing more information than he himself acquired, tipping them off to the probable location of Barnabus, the reclusive knight for whom Po had a message.
In investigating the whereabouts of Black Thaniel, the local Veil operative, the party was led to a location in the warehouse district of the city and beheld a grisly sight: the heads of three men on pikes driven into the ground outside a large, derelict building. The pike on which Black Thaniel’s head was mounted was decorated by a single large, black feather.
The party settled in for the night at the Trifle, the local inn, where they met with a merchant named Tarentel who treated them to a meal and drinks in exchange for conversation and news. In a private meeting in their room later that night, Tarentel intimated that there were lots of opportunities for profit for those individuals who were willing to skirt the Hand’s laws and serve the needs of the people and the various factions at work in the city.
The following morning, Sister Thalia of the Temple of Pelor sought out the party at the Trifle, thanking them for the donation of market goods and testing Rumla’s pledge to help in any way that he could. After an awkward moment of conversation, Thalia related the rumors of a great treasure that lies beneath the ruins of the Heap, an old Arnassian fortress on the outskirts of the city. The party agreed to investigate the ruin and bring Thalia any valuables that they might find there, so that the Temple could make its tribute payments to the Hand and stay in operation.
Before journeying to the Heap, the party stopped off at the Burroughs Farm to find Barnabus. They met with a man dubiously proclaiming himself to be farmer named Rannis, who promised to deliver the news of Olden the Grey’s recent death to Barnabus ‘when next he presents himself’. Rannis also warned the party against investigating the ruins, insisting that the Heap is a dangerous and haunted place that would likely bring doom on any who disturbed it.
Not heeding Rannis’ warning, the group backtracked to the Heap and arrived just after dusk. Spotting torchlight amongst the fallen walls and mounds of rubble, Qwee and Po scouted ahead to discover a group of Altern prying at a capstone set into the ground. The Altern were quickly despatched and the party entered the ruin.
Judging from the undisturbed dust and cobwebs, it appeared that no one had set foot in the lower levels for many years. The only occupants that the party encountered were the decayed but animate remains of a priest and his followers in a decrepit chapel to Bahamut. What dark power kept the dead from their wonted rest is a mystery that has yet to be solved, as the party continues its exploration of the depths of the haunted keep.