Reavers of Harkenwold Part 1 – Toadwallow Caverns
The party arrived back at Fallcrest expecting to rest and recuperate for a couple of weeks before Traevus would be ready to start the ritual to retrieve his brother from the Shadowfell. Instead within a day of returning they were summoned before Lord Warden Markelhay. The Lord Warden of Fallcrest had heard of the party’s exploits and requested their assistance in dealing with the problem of Harkenwold.
Harkenwold had been overrun by a band of brigands calling themselves “The Iron Circle” and had imprisoned the rightful ruler of Harkenwold, Baron Stockmer, in the dungeons of his own keep. Lord Markelhay commissioned the party to travel to Harkenwold and work against the Iron Circle with an aim to rescuing Baron Stockmer, and restoring him as ruler of Harkenwold.
The following day the party set out for Harkenwold. They travelled the next two days along The King’s Road through Harken Forest, and eventually left the forest behind as they entered the valley of Harkenwold. Sometime around midday the party saw smoke coming from behind a small hill. A dirt track led in that direction, where they found brigands wearing a black cloak with an grey circle insignia about to set fire to a farm building which had a woman and her children inside. They had already set fire to an outbuilding. The party defeated the brigands and their pet wolves (with some difficulty – the wolves particularly liked double teaming on Vennerzad and continually knocking him prone and then savaging him), and rescued the woman and her two boys.
The woman’s name was Ilyana and after putting out the fire in the outbuilding she told them that the Iron Circle were sellswords and cutthroats who seized Harkenwold over a month ago. Since imprisoning Baron Stockmer they had been plundering the land, stating they were collecting “taxes”. Ilyana advised them to avoid the town of Harken, which had the most amount of Iron Circle soldiers and suggested they speak to either the druid Reithann in her grove closeby, or continue to Albridge and speak to Dar Gremath, an ex adventurer who is organising the resistance movement. Ilyana advised that the folk of Harkenwold were ready to rebel – they just needed a spark to set things off.
The party decided to see the druid Reithann first. They soon found her grove, with her humble cottage. Reithann turned out to be a spry 80 year old woman with two apprentices. She was firmly on the side of the rebels and suggested that the first blow should fall on the bullywugs of Toadwallow Caverns. They are unnatural creatures, and by harassing the people of western Harkenwold they were preventing the people of the village of Tor’s Hold from joining Albridge in open resistance. She offered a magic suit of armour if the party could return with the bullywug chieftan’s staff as proof of their conquest. Reithann also provided three healing potions.
The party set off west and spent the night in Tor’s Hold. Tor’s Hold held about 140 people and their elder was Bran Torsson, a big boisterous man of 60 years who was willing to muster the fighting folk of the Torsson clan and march to aid Dar Gremath in Albridge, but had been unable to do so because of the bullywug raids on his family’s homes and fields.
The next day the party continued west and found themselves at Toadwallow Caverns. The battle with the bullywugs was joined immediately they entered the caverns, and the second wave coming from deeper in the caverns included the chieftan with his staff. The chieftan was difficult to put down, and had a croaking firey burp that singed the party a few times and delivered the killing blow to Vennerzad who had already been knocked unconscious from a lightning spell unleashed by the bullywug chieftan. But finally all bullywugs appear vanquished, and it is left now to bury Vennerzad and explore the caverns.
As well as some treasure, gathered by the bullywugs by their raids, the caverns also revealed a surprise. The Bullywugs had captured a shifter by the name of Tor. The party freed him and he explained he had been captured while exploring. Further explorations revealed a large hole, which the bullywugs had been using as a rubbish tip and latrine by the smell of it. However two grey oozes flowed out of the hole to attack the party, obviously wanting some fresh meat instead of offal and refuse for a change. The party made short work of them and were congratulating themselves when a loud croak, like a challenge, was heard from the front of the caverns. The party rushed out to find a massive bullywug, with some of its smaller cousins spoiling for a fight. The battle was brutal, but the addition of Tor to the party was a welcome one as he was proficient with thrown weapons. As they picked through the bodies a small child, hands bound, was found lying on the grass. With a shock Leshanna remembered casting magic missile at a barely glimpsed figure at the back of the bullywug group. The party decided to return the child’s body back to his family, by following the bullywug trail backwards.