The aftermath of Tainted Hill was not a positive one. The young heroes knew that their adventurous dungeon delving would not go over well with most of the people of Thrivlen. If they hadn't cleaned out the infestation from the Hill, who would have?
Desmond Lunacrest and Luca Hagen spent the following week doing manual labor. Upstream from where they were working, lumberers were dumping harvested trees into the river. It was Desmond and Luca's job to pull the logs out of the river and stack them approprietly near the wood mill to be processed. Helping them during that week was another budding young adventurer by the name of Radess.
Through the week of hard work, the three had become close friends and eventually invited Radess to join them on their next exploit. Meanwhile Kalec Lunacrest was busy throughout the week pouring over the notes and sketches he took while in Tainted Hill. Solomon, his seasoned mentor, helped him investigate the mystery behind the large portal that still lies deep within Tainted Hill. Towards the end of the week Kalec returned home, exhausted and frustrated from the lack of success, to find his brother Desmond packing up his adventuring gear. The older brother explained to Kalec that they, including Luca and Radess, were going to set out before dawn the next day to find Penny Omillow. She apparently had spent the week with Rovilliard tracking gnolls.
The boys have not had a chance to speak with Penny or Rover since the Tainted Hill incident. They were concerned about the lack of attention the hill had been getting. What is going to stop more tainted from returning to the hill? They had to find Rover and see what he thinks.
So the next day, just before dawn, the four boys set out east to find Penny and Rovilliard. They did their best to stay off of the main paths/roads to avoid townspeople to see them completely geared up. After a couple of hours walking through orchard and grassy field, they came upon a small farm and immediatley knew something was terribly wrong.They boys knew the family that lived here: Lara is a dairy farmer in her mid 50s, her daughter Kylie in her mid 30s, and Kylie's son Matthew. Matthew wasn't even born when his father and grandfather died at the wall 6 years ago.
What alarmed them was that in the corner of the field was a collection of dead cows. From a distance they could tell that they had been killed by arrows. After moving closer it became clear that the farm was under attack by bandits. Grubby looking men were pounding on the front door of the farmhouse, others were searching the barn, one was standing atop a large wagon firing arrows carelessly towards the animals in the field, and one large ugly man was leaning on his enormous greataxe. This muscled bandit looked as if he was simply waiting for his friends to finish the looting.
Disgusted, the heroes sprang into action. The two nearest bandits were just on the other side of the fence. Only twenty feet away. Desmond Lunacrest easily vaulted over the tall fence and continued to dispatch the two men within seconds. The large axe wielding man roared to his men and they all began to rush the heroes. There were twelve bandits in all and they were all barrelling down at the boys. Without hesitation the heroes followed Desmond's lead, climbed the fence, and began to close in on the bandits. The heroes were quickly surrounded. it was 12 vs 4.
The large axe wielding bandit began to beat down hard on Luca Hagen. The young paladin did everything he could to fend off the berzerker's mighty blows. The heroes realized quickly that if they don't take out the berzerker soon, this fight will end as quick as it started. Kalec was immediately overrun by one of the bandits, he fought him off the best he could but couldn't shake him off long enough to drop him with his arcane powers. Desmond and Luca were surrounded and flanked in multiple ways. They just couldn't seem to deflect, dodge, and block fast enough to keep up with all the attacks.
Radess, positioned a careful distance from the engagement, began to unload volley after volley of arrows onto the attackers. The bandits were peppered with arrows and within a few seconds Radess had managed to drop a quarter of the bandits. Luca and Desmond, no longer surrounded, were able to go on the offensive. Desmond immediately tore into the berzerker with the best he had and inflicted heavy damage. The berzerker roared in pain and with a devastating counterattack he dropped Desmond to the ground… Unconcious.
Kalec, seeing his brother in peril, unleashed a blast of pure dark energy onto the berzerker. The berzerker took the full blast onto the side of his head and toppled over in a bloody and charred mess.
The berzerker was gone, but Luca was still surrounded. He focused his divine power and healed Desmond's wounds, healed him just enough to be able to get up and get back into the fight. The battle looked bleak for a few short moments, but they had forward momentum now. Radess continued assaulting the bandits with arrows, Kalec rained down his dark arcane fury, Desmond was whirling shuriken, and Luca struck down with all his might.
The tide turned quickly, the bandits continued to fall and with their leader in a bloody heap, they had lost all hope. They each turned tail and ran. Three of the bandits ended up getting away in the end. Radess gritted his teeth, disapointed in letting them get away. He was determined to track them down and finish the fight.
Desmond and Kalec searched the bodies. Kalec gathered a small amount of gold pieces. Desmond found a note on the berzerker's body. The note was a letter addressed to a man named Bruko (the berzerker) and it instructed him to go to Orchard Valley to kill Ulric Masterson. It said to bring back his ring finger along with his family crest ring as proof. The letter was signed by "Mr. A." Desmond searched the backpack that Bruko was wearing and he found a severed human head inside. Apparently Bruko didn't get the memo about the ring finger…
The heroes ran over to the farm house to see if the family was ok. It was then that they ran into Penny and Rover. Apparently they had seen the commotion from one of their watch posts. Rover advised the heroes to take the head and the note to the Masterson Estate and talk with somebody there about the bandits. Penny said she'd take care of the family and she'd catch up with them later. Rover proceded to track down the surviving bandits that had gotten away.
It took a several hours, but the heroes made their way to the Masterson Estate. It was there that they met the real Ulric Masterson. The man that the bandits had killed turned out to be Morlo, Ulric's trusted servant. It was standard practice for Morlo to pose as Ulric whenever greeting strangers or conducting business. This time the business cut off his head.
The heroes were set on pursuing "Mr. A" but Ulric dismissed it. He had other plans for the heroes. He proposed a mission for the boys to do for him. Ulric told the boys about an ancient temple that stands in the center of the marsh just west of here. The temple was built by his ancestors hundreds of years ago and would like to reclaim it. Ulric seemed only to be concerned for the outside of the temple. The entrance to the temple should be sealed shut. However, tainted had taken up residence all around the entrance and he can't get anywhere near it.
The heroes accepted the mission without hesitation. Ulric paid them a sum of money ahead of time and along with that, a couple of magical scrolls and a pile of potions.
The four boys left the estate. It's going to be really late when they get home. Desmond and Kalec cringed… hoping Bridget Lunacrest won't notice they were out of town all day.
Tomorrow will be an important day. The Day of Remembrance.