A Change of Direction

Garm and Laeith led the way out of the cryptlike depths of the ruined Abbey and back out into the wan sunlight of a midafternoon on Gardbury Downs. Already the sense of dread and foreboding had begun to dissipate, confirming Dyovek's suspicion that the enigmatic, masked creature they had fought in the wreckage of the library had, indeed, been the source of the strange perversions spreading from the ruin.
A short and uneventful march saw them clear to the road, where three cloaked men stood beside a train of horses. The tallest one beamed with delight at the sight of the four adventurers, slapping his portly companion on the shoulder. "Ha! 'Ere, now, Pavel, that's five silver ducals ye'll be owing me! I tol' ye the Nameless Company was tougher than some spooky haunted church!"

The tall man, Gerit, quickly explained that they'd been hired by 'Master Valthrun;' he knew little but handed them a letter sealed with Valthrun's sigil:

My Friends,

If you are reading this, our faith in you has been rewarded by your return from Gardmore Abbey; I hope have you found what we sent you after in those unfortunate halls. Sadly, I cannot await you in Winterhaven any longer; urgent business with the Nerath Cartographers' Society demanded my presence in Fallcrest. I have hired a few sellswords to await you at the crossroads with horses to see you quickly to the city, for I am anxious to see the fruits of your efforts. Furthermore I believe the matters being discussed by the Cartographers' Society may be of interest to you as well… please meet me at the Blue Moon Tavern as soon as you can.

Your Faithful Friend,
Valthrun the Prescient
Seer of Winterhaven

Lady Lyssa Tallstag and Valthrun sought the adventurers' help with troubles in Winterbole, the forest near the fishing village of Nenlast.

Valthrun's Parting Words

“The matter of getting there, of course, I leave to you; there are a few different paths, none of them without danger. You should ask around; traders, fishermen, and trappers might know more than I about the possible routes.”

GETTING TO NENLAST
Streetwise Check:

  • 10: Heading north through the Dancing Wood is generally considered a bad idea, so common people bound for Nenlast instead tend to go to long way around, via the Trade Road to Fiveleague House and then north to Nenlast through the Old Hills. But this is slow and difficult going, and not without risks of its own, for tribes of orcs, bugbears and hobgoblins frequently raid along the Trade Road around Thunderspire and the Old Hills.
  • 15: Well-funded travelers could make their way directly north to the ruins of Fastormel. From there one could hire a fishing boat from one of the nearby villages to sail directly across Lake Nen, or else follow the fur-traders’ tracks along the coastline. But to do so, they would first have to make their way through the Dancing Wood.
  • 20: River travel up the east fork of the Nentir River would be a good option, but with winter approaching you’d be hard-pressed to find a river captain looking to make the trip.
  • 25: A riverboat might ferry you across to Gray Downs, but of course that route holds dangers as well – people in Fallcrest speak in hushed tones of the restless dead of the Sword Barrow, and the Skull King who commands them. And at some point north of the Dancing Wood you would have to make your way back across.

A FAREWELL - AND A NAME

The following morning, a small but earnest crowd of well-wishers stood on the docks as the four adventurers loaded their gear and horses onto Danil Broadleaf's barge for the trip upstream to the edge of Gray Downs. Many of them nursed black eyes and chipped teeth which had not been there the morning before: already word was spreading of the incredible brawl at the Blue Moon.

Overnight, awestruck whispers had spread the story all over Fallcrest, and the burgeoning reputation of the nameless adventuring party who had recently saved Winterhaven and braved the depths of Gardmore Abbey became cemented in town lore. It was no Nameless Company, no friendless and uncelebrated band of treasure-hunters who were slowly poled away from Fallcrest that crisp late-autumn morning.

Instead, they left town local folk heroes and respected citizens; humblers of Fallcrest watch-sergeants; and bringers of property damage to all and sundry: the Band of the Blue Moon.

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