The players return to Loudwater having vanquished the goblins, cleared the Barrow of the Ogre King and perhaps solved future goblin problems in the area, at least as it pertains to the Bloody Stump tribe. As they approach the walled town, they see that the portion of the wall the goblins blew up is being repaired, and, by all appearances, quickly –as the last large block is being lifted high into the air with a block and tackle system.
At the city gates, Kelgrath the sorcerer sees something that gives him pause. Someone has taken a large legless wooden table and painted several symbols on it with whitewash paint. (at this point the DM hands Kelgrath a piece of paper that Kelgrath’s player reads). The other players know Kelgrath is holding back and start to question him. He relents a bit and tells them that the symbols are a secret code he knows and that someone is trying to communicate with him, trying to tell Kelgrath to meet, but Kelgrath cannot figure out what the final symbol is, a square with a C attached to the side, done in green paint.
Our heroes enter the town wondering (pure DM speculation here) what other secrets the sorcerer holds, and indeed, just how well do they know each other?
The players decide to go back to the Green Tankard Tavern to rest, wash up and eat. As they approach the Tankard they see the work being done on the wall. Overseeing the work (a bunch of burly men pulling and heaving while several others atop the city wall use sticks and ropes to position a massive block, hanging 30 feet into the air, in place) is a severe looking lady in chainmail.
Several of the players do a double-take. The severe looking woman in the chainmail shirt, a worn wooden rod hanging from her belt, a thin golden circlet on her brow is none other than Lady Moonfire. The laughing, shallow, be-jeweled, gown wearing elven ‘ruler’ of Loudwater has been replaced by this stern, serious looking woman confidently directing the rapid repair of the town wall.
Hunger and sleep forgotten, the players head over to investigate, but in doing so the mystery only deepens. While the person standing there looks like Lady Moonfire, she also looks different. Her ears are pointier, her face is narrower, and there are tattoos (for lack of a better term) on both of her hands and arms. The tattoos show the moon in various phases, on fire, as it hurdles through the night sky. All the heroes swear that the tattoos move, but none actually see it happen. And then there is her attitude: it wasn’t too long ago that Lady Moonfire had broken down in front of players, admitting that she was not up to the job of running the town and that she was afraid that her actions would lead to the death of her people. Hard to imagine the confident woman standing before them, exuding strength, having a breakdown of any kind, let alone admit weakness.
Our heroes play it cool, acting as if Lady Moonfire’s appearance and demeanor were not out of the ordinary. However, in reality the players were making every type of roll they could think of: insight, perception, history, religion, I think a Spot Hidden from Call of Cthulhu was somehow rolled –the dice were a-flying. Alas, nothing was gleaned and the players left Lady Moonfire with the promise to meet again later after everyone was rested. The players head back to the Green Tankard.
In the Green Tankard, Laval Marsh, the halfling proprietor greets the players, as do several of the locals, the players having become local celebrities. It was then that Kelgrath notices someone he knows sitting in the corner of the common room, a dwarf in leather armor (armor covered in stylized depictions of thunderstorms and lightning). The dwarf comes over to greet Kelgrath, pulling him aside away from the other players. After a few hushed words, Kelgrath assures the dwarf that his fellow heroes can be trusted and the players are introduced to Orvat Redguard.
Orvat was the one who drew the symbol at the front gate. The green symbol was supposed to be a tankard; the series of symbols suppose to be asking Kelgrath to meet at the Green Tankard. The symbols are part of a secret code used by the group that Orvat and Kelgrath are both members of: The Order of the Inner Spark, an order dedicated to helping sorcerers (who are despised in parts of Faerun). Orvat made the symbol so large because he had to make sure Kelgrath would see it –so he could tell Kelgrath about the rampaging dragon.
Orvat explains that he was in the nearby ‘town’ of Llorhk (more a bandit enclave than a town) a few days ago, investigating a rumor of someone exhibiting sorcerer like abilities. Then a dragon showed up. The dragon walked around the town roaring until it finally seemed to get bored with that and starting eating people, though some of the bandits in Llorhk attacking the beast didn’t help either. The dragon destroyed the entire town, eating most. Orvat had an encounter himself, the dragon cornering him as he tried to flee, roaring at him until he (Orvat) thought he might wet himself. He managed to get away (just barely) and fled to Loudwater, where Orvat’s agents have informed him that Kelgrath is in the area.
Orvat encourages the players to leave Loudwater. While Orvat admits to not being an expert on dragons, it was clear to him that the creature was looking for something –and that it did not find whatever it was. The players discuss this and decide to warn Lady Moonfire, realizing, for better or worse that they had a connection to the place and didn’t want to see it suffer, perhaps had even risen to the level of local heroes.
Rest denied yet again, the players head out of the Green Tankard and over to Lady Moonfire, who was watching the workers finish the final details on placing the last block in the now completely repaired wall. Next to her was standing the head of the town watch (known as the Silver Crescents), Captain Harrowleaf, his two rapier handles rising above his back, two steel capped ‘talking sticks,’ the weapons of choice for the guard, hanging at his belt, as well as a hand-held crossbow. And again the players are taken aback as they see that like Lady Moonfire, Harrowleaf’s appearance has subtly changed as well. Like Lady Moonfire, Harrowleaf’s ears are pointier and larger, his face more angular, and he seems to be a bit taller.
Upon seeing the changes to Harrowleaf, the cleric wonders if perhaps the players have somehow removed a curse resulting in the changes to Harrowleaf and Lady Moonfire.
(DM’s confession: The first time the players met Harrowleaf I had not described him properly. I was out of practice and ultimately out of time. For a variety of reasons (which, time allowing I might go into elsewhere on this site) I initially struggled with Loudwater and its inhabitants. Realizing I was only cheating the players and myself, I set out to create more in-depth NPC’s. Thus, the Harrowleaf the players meet here is much more ‘filled-out’ than the one they met earlier. I mention this because one of the players scoffed a bit at the difference in my description and I wanted to explain how it came to be (though not justify it, I should have been on my game from the beginning). Anyway –Harrowleaf’s garb is how he is always dressed, his facial changes and possible changes to his height are reflections of something the players have yet to discover)
The players tell Lady Moonfire about the dragon, Orvat helping a bit with details, mostly confirming that the thorn in Loudwater’s side, Llorhk is now gone. Lady Moonfire instructs Captain Harrowleaf to prepare the town, man the walls with archers and have the women in children ready to move into cellars. The quiet, serious Harrowleaf leaves to perform his duties.
Lady Moonfire turns to the players and asks them if they would stay with her while she addresses the town. The players agree and she asks them to help her into the air with the block and tackle. Lifted into the air by mechanical means Lady Moonfire addresses the town, her voice clearly magnified by some arcane process. She addresses the town (as you might remember, she is facing one of the busiest markets in Loudwater) and explains the situation and then asks the players to lower her.The mage, Curuvar the Brazen comes out of the Green Tankard, nods to the players and asks Lady Moonfire how he can help, she suggests he find Harrowleaf, Curuvar does so. Archers begin to man the town walls.
Lady Moonfire asks the players for their input, at which point she hopes aloud that the dragon has perhaps moved on and that Llorhk was an isolated incident. As she finishes saying this, a massive shadow blots out the sun, a shadow in the shape of a dragon.