After coming to an agreement with Jixin, the group (at present time ad hoc with no explicit plans to stay together for any particular period of time) returned to Fallcrest on foot. The first stop was the Moonsong Temple. Having shrines to Corellon, Avandra, and Melora, the Moonsong Temple was primarily dedicated to Sehanine (the four being known as “the Four Free Gods”). Being an invoker of Sehanine, Lia first introduced herself and her companions and then requested (with a payment of gold) that the temple care for the body of Barakas (carried by Berend with Velos’s assistance) and attempt to pass word of his passing to any next of kin.
Lia then asked High Priest Ressilme Starlight if she had any knowledge of a human skull infused with necromantic energies. Starlight had little advice to offer other than suggesting the group consult Grundulmar, dwarf priest of Pelor. The group made their way to the House of the Sun. This temple contained shrines to Kord and Bahamut, but was primarily associated with Pelor.
Grundulmar replied saying he had heard rumors of the skull that the group mentioned, but didn’t believe it existed. If it did, however, it would be very dangerous, especially in the wrong hands. He had heard rumors that the Iron Circle, mercenaries from the south, might wish to get a hold of such an object. The Iron Circle were mercenaries from the south, robbing people and causing great distress in Harkenwold. Grundulmar suggested that more answers might be found in Hammerfast. With this though he gave warning of the [[Raven’s Roost]], raiders on the trade road that might additionally be in league with the Iron Circle. Lia realized that she had passed their lair on the way to the Trade Road, and fortunately had enough sense to keep her distance. Raven’s Roost was led by 3 Shader-kai, which several of the group recognized as a type of Shadow being bent on destroying kingdoms and venerating the Raven Queen. Having gray skin, tatoos, and piercings, these people fight without concern for their own wellbeing and hail from a meritocratic society.
Over the course of the discussion with Grundulmar, it became clear that he didn’t really doubt the existence of the skull, not least because he kept asking to see it, assuming that the group was lying and did indeed have it. While he was correct, no one gave him the satisfaction of letting him know he was. While no one had any reason to explicitly distrust Grundelmar, his zealotry turned some in the group off and made all a bit wary.
From here the group decided it was time to confront Traevus and find out his side of the story. Elden took the lead as this would require a bit of a bluff to get Traevus talking without suspecting the group. Certainly enough of their story was true to make the whole thing work. The group bought several rounds of ales to loosen the man up, though this was hard work given Traevus’s great concern for the fact that the group had not (as far as he knew) retrieve the box. Traevus explained how Marsinda Goldspinner, High Master of Hammerfast and leader of the Trade Guild, had instructed him to deliver it to Fallcrest. Apparently Traevus felt he was highly trusted and that his knowledge of the trade road along with the secrecy of the mission should have prevented any interception. He surmised that there was likely a spy in Hammerfast working for whoever stole the box.
Traevus also recounted the story of his work with Maloreth. They had been loose business partners, but Traevus regularly delivered goods for Maloreth, usually not knowing what those goods were. However Traevus claimed that he did tell Maloreth that he had no interested in dealing with anything related to the dark arts. When Traevus did look into what he was transporting once, he saw that it was of dark magic, and that is when he told Maloreth that they no longer had a partnership. He had no idea that Maloreth had any particular powers or was involved in necromancy.
However Traevus had heard that Maloreth was working with the Mages of Saruun, based in Thunderspire Mountain. Moreover, he had found a new partner in Lord Vanick who was believed to be associated with the Iron Circle.
After yet more ale and a bit of a diplomatic push by Velos, Travis finally gave in and told the group that he had intended to deliver the skull to Grundelmar to be destroyed. Elden led a new negotiation to make more gold off the box should the group go back to face Maloreth again and retrieve the box. Travis eventually agreed to the deal and the group set off. Outside of the Blue Moon Alehouse, the group decided, with Jixin’s input that everything he’s heard fits what he knows, to go back to Travis and tell him what really happened.
Velos explained why the group had lied and taken such precautions, and Traevus was most relieved that the box and the skull had indeed been retrieved. The group went back to the House of the Sun and gave witness to Grundelmar’s destruction of the skull. Grundelmar mentioned that given the group’s service, they might consider talking with Farren Markelhay, Lord Warden of Fallcrest, about taking on some additional work and help the Nentir Vale.
The group went to the Nentir Inn with plans to see the Warden the next day. The evening went by without disturbance, though during breakfast they met Serim Seldazaar, a tiefling claiming to be the 3rd son of a southern noble looking to purchase an estate in Fallcrest. He seemed a bit off to the group and repeatedly told everyone not to trust the Markelhays.
Finally the group went to meet with the warden. They were told of the trouble of the Iron Circle in the towns of Harkenwold. This caused great concern for Lia who had friends and family in the region. Velos and Berend were always up for helping people in need, and Elden and Jixin were more than happy to agree to the mission given the gold promised for success. Warden Markalhay told the group that they should seek out Dar Gremath, a retired adventurer who was currently resisting the Iron Circle’s attacks into Harkenwold.
Thus, the group went out to sell off their various items and resupply. They would need to be prepared, though it was difficult to say what exactly they’d need to be prepare for…