A Friend in Need

Book 1-4: Toblen's Toast
Delivered the evening after the defeat of the Bloodcoats

My friends and neighbors, you know what kind of man I am. You know I don’t use fancy words or care much about fancy clothes. I’m a plain kinda fellow, and my inn here is a plain kinda inn. As long as we got good beer to serve, a hearth to keep us warm, and the fixins for a decent stew, then as far as I’m concerned, things here are just about perfect.

Problem is, we had those things and we were a long way away from perfect. Those red-cloaked ruffians had us all livin’ scared every day, like we were chickens livin’ in a fox den. Always felt like I was just countin’ the days ‘til I said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing or looked at one of ’em in the wrong way, and then I’d end up just like poor old Thel, stabbed dead in the street with my wife and kid lookin’ on. So I kept my head down and said life was good ‘cause I had good beer and a warm hearth and some stew. That’s what we all did, ’cause we were scared.

Tonight, I wanna raise a glass to a group of men who didn’t give in to that fear. These strangers – Lanster, Unther, Kheth, Aldan, and Ryu – they didn’t know us and had no reason to care about what was happenin’ here in Three Stones. But they saw that those Bloodcoats were the wrong kinda people, evil kinda people, and they said ‘No’ to that. When they stood up for our dear Elsa, and the Bloodcoats came after ‘em, I was still lettin’ my fear overcome my reason. I was gonna throw those boys out on the street because I didn’t want the trouble! I sure am glad they’re braver men than me…

To hear the tale, you’d think it was one of the stories Tril tells our little Pip when the fire burns down low. Five brave souls march into a dark cave in the forest, outwit the guardian monster, cut down goblins and bugbears and brigands, and capture the evil wizard Glass Staff in his lair. If they hadn’t marched the Glass Staff through the square in chains, I probably still wouldn’t believe it! But they did. And all of a sudden, knowing that the Bloodcoats are well and truly gone from our town, I feel like the sun just broke through the clouds for the first time.

So raise your cups, my friends and neighbors! Here’s to the boys from Leilon! We salute your bravery and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for reminding us that the perfect life is one where we live free from fear!

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Book 1-3: A letter from Iarno
Found amongst the papers on the Glass Staff's desk...

My gracious and kind Lord Spider,

First, I wish to thank you again for sending Mosk and his companions. Though we don’t need the bugbears to maintain order in Three Stones, they’ve been useful for transporting repackaged goods and carrying supplies to and from Cragmaw Castle. I’ve found suitable accommodations for them, and they’ve made themselves at home. They have even learned their way around the nothic, and have taken to calling it “Blinky”, as my men do. Ah, to be a simple soul, with a mind unfettered by the thoughts and worries that plague us greater men!

I also wish to convey that the ones you warned us of arrived in Three Stones two days ago, bearing a wagonload of mining gear. They seem as you described, foolish fops from Leilon playing at being warriors and wizards, and doing poorly at it, from the look of things. There were seven all told, six men and a strangely garbed half-elf. One of the men was near death, palid and barely breathing, and was given to the care of Garaele, the priest of Tymora. The rest were dirty, bruised, and bandaged. Seems they had a run-in with some of Queen Grolla’s subjects on the road. Two of my men overhead the story being retold in the taproom. Apparently they fought their way through and killed some goblins in the process. I suppose they may have some skill, or at least a measure of luck. Not that killing goblins is such a feat. It’s such unfortunate business, when one pretends to be something one is not and gets exposed as incompetent…

I’ve set some men to watch these newcomers and take measure of their goals and aims. My Bloodcoats know how to ask questions and how to get the right answers, and the townsfolk know better than to cross us. For now, the men from Leilon seem content to rest and recuperate. The half-elf hired himself out to scribe for the Miner’s Exchange, and the warrior spent the day lounging about the inn. The other four have been more disruptive, but I have already sorted that out. Two rode out early in the day and returned at sundown, looking travel-worn. Perhaps they seek the dwarf you wrote of, and hope to find him at Cragmaw Castle? Another was asking about after me, claiming to be an old companion from the Lord’s Alliance. If he’s who I think he is, he could become quite the nuisance, if allowed to continue his inquiries. The last, a dandy who fancies himself a marksman, actually had the gall to interrupt a bit of fun that two of my men were having with a local barmaid.

Considering this activity, and our desire to continue our current course without disruption, I sent some of my men to permanently resolve the problem last night. My men are reliable and their task was simple, so I am confident that they dealt with the matter. I will get confirmation after breakfast this morning. This should also help quell any doubts the townsfolk have about who is really in charge, and allow us to continue “redistributing” goods in the manner which has been so profitable to us all.

I thank you for the confidence you have shown in my men and I. We continue to be your humble and ever-faithful servants.

Respectfully,

Iarno Albreck of the Glass Staff

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Book 1-2: Sending Stones
Sildar's alert to Trey that things went wrong

From Sildar to Trey:
Sire. Raynor and I captured by goblins. Raynor and Map taken to Cragmaw Castle – unknown location. Ryuichi and companions rescued me. Hurt but OK.

From Trey to Sildar:
Where are you now? You are OK? What about my friends? Any hint of Raynor’s location?

From Sildar to Trey:
In Three Stones. Situation here bad – bandits in charge. Iarno missing. Ryuichi, Lanster, Kheth, Unther, and Aldan OK. Wilfire badly injured, but alive. More later.

From Sildar to Trey:
Ambush planned by Silver Spider – who is that? Your friends found note on Cragmaw goblins. Knew we were coming. Be wary. Still no Iarno.

From Trey to Sildar:
Silver Spider is bad news. Very dangerous agent for hire. Be careful. You must find Raynor. You can trust my friends.

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Book 1-1: A Mysterious Message
An outsider's view on the start of things

A bird flew in through the north window and exploded. There was a dull “whumph” and a cloud of dark feathers that drifted and spun before settling to the floor. The man set down his book and rose from his chair to survey the aftermath. A final shred of black down fell into place. The man read the message spelled out in black feathers across the floor of the room.

My little spiders tell me that young Dellagato means to proceed with his plan. He will be a greater threat than his father, to be certain. Yesterday, Dellagato sent his man Sildar Highwinter to accompany the dwarf, Raynor Hammerdeep, back to Three Stones. Hammerdeep carries the map that Dellagato gave him – the one that supposedly leads to the Thundering Cavern and the Spellforge. Dellagato means to find it and revive it, as part of a greater plan to restore the prestige of Moorguard Mercantile.

Dellagato shared this plan with a group of his friends that he means to recruit to his cause. They are all fools and fops like him, minor noble sons playing at being knights or wizards or holy men. This morning, he sent the four of them, along with his valet, to follow Highwinter and Hammerdeep to Three Stones. They are transporting a wagon load of mining supplies to assist Hammerdeep in uncovering the Spellforge. According to what my spider says of Dellagato’s scheme, they will secure the Spellforge and partner with the Ironeaters of Mt. Illefarn to operate it.

I have already woven the necessary webs to snare the map to the Spellforge and turn these events in your favor, my lord. Queen Grolla has agents, crude as they are, that already watch the Triboar Trail. I have given her descriptions of our prey and instructions to capture Hammerdeep and the map and deliver them to me. She required less compensation than I would have expected – I always forget how unimaginative the Cragmaws can be. They are always after captives to use for food and sport, so I gave them leave to take Highwinter and Dellagato’s friends for their amusement, and promised gold and weapons if they deliver the dwarf and map unscathed.

I will contact you when the prize is captured. The Spellforge will serve your purposes well, and you can use it to crush the last vestiges of the Dellagatos at your whim.

Your Faithful Servant, – XS

The man tugged his earlobe and smiled. He returned to his chair and his book, crushing the black feathers beneath his fine shoes. The message slowly disintegrated, and was borne away on the breeze blowing through the north window. It smelled of rain.

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