A few days after their rescue mission Valare is once again sent to round up the party. Haytham has another job for them. It seems that in the wake of the goblin raid a group of thugs, under the authority of the Redbrand Builder’s Guild, have begun strong-arming villagers into using their services for all repairs. Haytham explains that his hands are tied in this situation as Shale gets a lot of it’s funding from the trade guilds in Harport and they won’t look kindly on anyone who interferes with their associates business. Nevertheless the Redbrands have gone too far and must be made to pay for terrorizing the helpless citizens.
Haytham tells them that the Redbrands are operating out of an abandoned manor on the north edge of town and that they are led by a man known only as Glasstaff. Rumour has it that Glasstaff only recently took over the guild and it is under his influence that they began heading in this new violent direction.
The party is mostly reluctant to help. With little invested in the smallfolk of Shale they are further disappointed to hear that Haytham cannot be seen paying them for the mission. He does however have the location of a hidden cache that contacts of his have stocked with a suitable reward. Chad is not to happy with the state of affairs, claiming that he always gets half up front, but is eventually convinced to help the townsfolk by Granite.
Eventually the party makes their way to the outskirts of Shale where the Redbrands are said to be operating. No sooner have they started looking do they stumble across a nasty scene. Six men stand outside a dwarven home, a mixture of dwarfs elves and humans led by a hulking half-orc. All of them wear dirty red cloaks.
“No unapproved structures,” the half-orc bellows at the home’s inhabitants before kicking a support beam. The makeshift roof that had been covering a broken wall collapsed in a heap of timber and thatch. The father dwarf protested but one of the humans simply said, “You gotta pay up and wait in line like everyone else.”
As the family rushes back inside the heroes approach the Redbrands to find out what is going on. A few pleasantries are exchanged but once one of the Redbrands recognizes the party as the adventurers who chased down the goblins things take a turn for the worse. The Half-orc thinks that the heroes are getting too big for their boots and with a cry of, “Shale belongs to the Redbrands now,” he attacks Chad.
The bard winces and stumbles back under the half-orc’s vicious attack, barely managing to get his blade up to parry in time. Valare comes darting in from the back of the pack and trips the big ruffian with a low kick. As he tries to stand back up he is pierced by Chad’s rapier before Granite’s greataxe comes down with full force. The Redbrand’s leather armour is rent open leaving a gaping wound in his chest.
Meanwhile Atticus sends an arrow skipping across one of the Redbrand’s foreheads, sending blood streaming into his eyes. Tomi steps up to the advancing thugs and exchanges sword blows. His longsword bites deep whenever it connects but the swift shortswords of the Redbrands begin to wear him down.
To his right Fargrim lifts his shield as a human lashes out at him. When Fargrim unexpectedly dodges backwards the man’s swing sends him off balance and allows the cleric to knock him in the chin with the shield. Stepping back and placing one hand on the head of his still sheathed warhammer Fargrim lets the thug know that this is his last chance to flee. Sense gets the better of the man and he turns tail, dashing off down the street.
Seeing their campatriot fleeing sends a wave of doubt through the two Redbrands left standing and one of them turns to join in the retreat. A stubborn dwarf is the only one to stick around but with the entire party now set against him he lasts only a few more seconds.
With the fighting over the dwarf father reappears and introduces himself as Quelline. He thanks the party for their aid and informs them that the Redbrands have been branching out into extortion, kidnapping and murder. Quelline is greatful that someone has been sent to deal with the situation but is angry that it took this long. He points the party in the direction of Tresendar Manor, the Redbrands base, but says that they must be using the cellar as the house itself isn’t standing. As the heroes turn to leave Quelline’s son comes outside and whispers something to his father. The dwarf calls them back and tells them that his son, Carp, spotted some Redbrands entering a secret tunnel near the manor.
The party follows Carp’s lead and after a short walk they arrive in a clearing near the hill on which Tresendar Manor stands. Carp points between two trees and when the spot is investigated the party find a tunnel hidden behind the branches.
The way ahead is lit by torch light and after a few minutes of creeping forward the tunnel opens out into a large cavern. A chasm splits the area in two and is crossed by two wooden bridges. Atticus steps forward and on a hunch casts detect magic. A dull green glow emanates from the chasm and the druid tells the others that there is a faint necromantic energy to the place.
Distant shouts can be heard to the east, down a corridor on the other side of the chasm, but they seem to be getting a group together to go sort out some adventurers. Soon after the voices die down and the party praises their luck, knowing that the base will be mostly empty for a while.
Suddenly the heroes heads are filled with a grating, echoing voice. It asks questions over and over. “Whoisthis?NotRedbrandsno.Nottheotherones.Someoneelse.Butwhy?” A glowing form moves in the depths and out of the shadows hops a strange creature, hunched over and bounding on all fours. Its single green eye surveys the adventurers as it’s telepathic questioning continues.
“What are you?” Chad is the first to speak and the creature is forthcoming. He reveals that he is a Nothic, and once upon a time a wizard. He tells the party that he has an arrangement with Glasstaff but that he like to be on the winning side of any confrontations. The heroes take the hint and make a deal to leave the Nothic alone in exchange for information. It discloses the location of Glasstaff’s quarters and also an empty barracks room.
Venturing north-west towards Glasstaff’s chamber the party enters a room full of alchemical equipment. Beakers, coils, and vials bubble and drip in the centre of the room and one of the walls is lined with bookshelves filled with scruffy tomes and loose papers.
Chad identifies some of the ingredients on the table and tells the others that Glasstaff has been attempting to make invisibility potions. A rat scurries across the floor and under the influence of Atticus’s detection spell it is revealed as being magical. Both the druid and barbarian lunge for the rat and manage to get it in hand. Chad once again recognises the magic in use and realises that the rat must be Glasstaff’s familiar. But there is something nagging at him about familiars that he doesn’t quite remember.
A search of the bookshelves turns up the old journal of an adventurer named Urmon. It describes some of the history of the lost Throm stronghold and a location within called the Forge of Spells. Furthermore it describes a magic mace that was being forged there, commisioned by priests of the god of dawn. According to certain records the mace was never delivered. The party collectively decides that the Fargrim, as the only dwarf and person of faith, should look after the book.
Exciting the room and passing into Glasstaff’s personal quarters the party is shocked to find that their quarry has left in some haste only moments before. The chest at the end of his plush bed has been thrown open and is empty. A chair has been pushed back hurriedly from the writing desk and on the opposite side of the room a disguised doorway has been left ajar. It is at this point that Chad’s memory is jogged and he remembers that familiars share a telepathic bond with their masters. Glasstaff was warned of their approach.
The party makes chase. Through a storage room that opens onto the Nothic’s cavern and into another set of corridors where they run headlong into a trio of skeletons. In the close confines of the corridors the party is forced to stop and deal with the pecky undead and the sound of their fighting only announces their position to a pair of Redbrands who emerge from a side room.
When the fight is done the party looks a little worse for wear but a voice from the side room draws them in. A mother and her two children have been locked up and it is revealed that the Redbrands have murdered her husband. Granite uses brute strength to wrench the chains from their cell doors and Valare picks the locks on their collars. The family is freed.
Knowing that Glasstaff has made good his escape the adventurers advance more cautiously. In the next corridor Tomi and Granite fall into a pit trap and only the halfling is able to catch the edge. With an abundance of rope available around the party Granite it quickly pulled out and the party edges around the pit.
Soon the heroes find themselves in the cellar proper and voices can be heard coming from upstairs. Quickly searching around the party finds a set of red cloaks and disguises themselves as members of the guild. When two thugs emerge from the stairwell Atticus makes light conversation. The thugs say they need to ‘report to Mosk’ and the adventurers agree, deciding to follow them.
The party is lead back to the chasm though a secret door and as they pass the secret tunnel entrance they send the civilians back to town.
As they near the barracks the party can hear gruff voices insulting and laughing. When the door is opened they see a group of three bugbears toying with a pathetic looking goblin, who faints at the sight of all the red cloaks. The two ‘real’ Redbrands step into the room to report. The bugbear that they address, a scarred creature with a jeweled eyepatch, takes one look at the imposters and draws his mace.
Battle is joined but in the confusion the bugbears attack the two Redbrands who entered the room. A vicious charge from Mosk puts Atticus down and Fargrim has to move quickly to stabilize him. Granite flies into a rage and crashes his axe against Mosk’s weapon as Valare sneaks her chakram under his guard to perform her favourite move, the hamstring. Tomi dodges past and into the room to engage one of the other bugbears.
The furry goblinoids take a lot to put down and the brutal strikes from their maces cause some panic among the heroes. As the last bugbear staggers back from one of Tomi’s attacks the goblin, who had been cowering in the corner, grabs one of the Redbrand’s shortswords. The party is surprised when instead of attacking them the Goblin leaps on the bugbears back. In a frenzy the goblin stabs again and again until he drops the sword from exhaustion, tears pouring down his face. The heroes leave him be while they catch their breath.
It turns out that the goblin’s name is Droop and he gladly tells the adventurers about the Redbrand’s deal with the bugbears and other goblin tribes. He also identifies the two goblin clans that they had encountered in the forest. The Ironback clan, who wore the tortoiseshell armour, and the Shadowfoot clan, who paint skulls on their faces with black mud.
With the redbrand operation severely crippled and Droop set free into the wilderness the party heads back to town to give Haytham the news that Glasstaff escaped.