The Looming Flames

The Plot Thickens...

"Of plans made & unmade."

The party awakens in The Aleing Halfling in the aftermath of the undead attack. The small community of Crossford has been shaken by the gruesome horrors they witnessed. The group gathers in the inn’s common room to break their evening fast and to discuss future plans.

As the discussion continues the dwarven brothers Baiard and Brogate make it known they intend to head towards Greyhawk City. This divides the party along two lines: those who also wish to leave Crossford and those who wish to remain and help out. Maraxus, feeling indebted to the widow Valis for gifting him her family’s blade, wishes to stay and help as does his traveling companion Korlund. Django, still having yet to answer the question of his family’s attack also is hesitant to leave the area; as is the wizard Marvolo, who journeyed to Crossford for his own, undisclosed, reasons. Both the druid Galascaron and the ranger Hothwyn wish to investigate the mysterious twig blights and the dark druid’s grove they destroyed earlier. This leaves the Broadstone brothers, Sitdun, Marla, and Tulindranadel as the faction wishing to travel north. The two groups share a last drink and part on good terms, wishing that their paths should cross again.

As the first group goes about discussing how they can help out the citizens of Crossford, the second leaves to go provision themselves for the trip to Greyhawk City. While walking through the town to the various shops they need to visit Brogate is struck by the viciousness of the previous night’s attacks and despite his brother’s protests, the cleric goes to visit with Lord Mayor Rathgate. When he arrives he is told that the mayor is himself indisposed as he is visiting with the families of those who lost loved ones during the previous night. Brogate remembers the first victim he saw slain the night before and inquires about his name. He is told the man was Auroc Hemsted, a merchant who owned a shipping business and a warehouse near the docks, with his family’s home adjacent to it. The cleric decides visit the Hemsted widow and pay his respects. He arrives and speaks with the lady, mentioning the fact that his murder seemed to be premeditated due to the symbol of Vecna carved into his flesh. The dwarf asks if he may be permitted to peruse the warehouse for anything suspicious but the widow balks at the idea. After some gentle persuasion she relents, saying that Brogate may return after noon when she will have one of the workers accompany him. He thanks the lady and hastily returns to The Aleing Halfling to acquire his companions. However when he arrives he finds that Baiard has engaged Marla and Sitdun in a drinking contest. Agitated, he takes Marla aside and attempts to sober her up while explaining the gravity of the situation. After a short time the dwarven priest departs with the lady thief in tow back to the Hemsted warehouse. They are greeted and allowed entry while their escort looks on. The warehouse’s main chamber holds nothing out of the ordinary, but it is when the pair enters the office that a discovery is made: some papers that Auroc Hemsted has about mentions a “they” that has contacted him regarding the white apples that appear in Crossford every Growfest. The tone of these notes grows ever fearful until they simply stop. Remembering that Tulindranadel took a few of the white apples from the dark druid’s tree, Brogate rushes back to find his companion. Finding the elf buying provisions they discuss these revelations and agree to ask the mayor about them. Finding the mayor available after supper, he is quite forthcoming regarding the mysterious white apples. He explains that every year, just before Growfest, a few bushels of the fruit simply show up in town and have done so for the past seven years. The first year this happened, everyone thought it was some prank or perhaps an ill omen, but once the fruit was carefully tested it was found to be delicious and quite harmless. In fact the opposite, as those who consumed the fruit were reported to experience a boost in their vitality. Thus when the apples arrived the following year a frenzy arose among everyone wishing to claim them as their own. The town leaders decided that from then on the white apples would auctioned off in lots, with the money going to the town’s coffers. This proved wildly successful as people jockeyed to win as many as they could afford, as possessing them became a status symbol among the citizenry, and they could be resold at an exorbitant markup. The mayor goes on to explain that this year no apples showed up, and he feared that someone had managed to find them and hoard them before they could be auctioned. However the recent troubles with the goblins and undead have led many to temporarily forget the odd fruit this season. The party shows the mayor their four apples and explains where they came from. Mayor Rathgate is taken aback and horrified by the news. He is concerned that the fruit is actually cursed, and shares his worries that similar trees could have taken root, as many who bought the fruit over the years attempted to plant it in hopes of growing their own supply. The group expresses their concerns over this as well and promises to investigate further. Mayor Rathgate thanks them for their help and promises his aid.

As the day begins to give way to night the party who wished to travel to Greyhawk City secures their rooms in The Aleing Halfling for a few more nights and prepares to renew their investigations the next day.

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