After the rest of the party left to take care of the tasks that the people of Phandelin had asked them to take care of, Jass and Grok went gathered up some extra supplies (A shield for Jass, Splint Armor for Grok, etc) and inquired about if there might be anyone in town who could help them with finding and possibly attacking Cragmaw Castle. They were told that there was a man who recently came into town who seemed to not be a stranger to adventuring, but there did seem to be something off about him.
They took a brief stop at the Shrine of Luck where Jass attuned to Talon and Grok did some prayer. Jass found that her inner rage and thirst for vengeance fed into the dark powers of Talon and she found that the sword would be more effective in her hands than in others. Meanwhile Grok found that the divine guidance he often finds in prayer had a duality to it which left him a little uneasy.
From there they went to the bar at the Inn where they had heard the mysterious stranger in town was. Jass made Grok buy a round of drinks, because he seemed to be not worry too much about money while they had been shopping earlier. While they were drinking Jass and Grok were approached by a man of a slender build wearing a red bandana on his head and carrying a Lute on his back, who matched the description of the man who recently came to town.
This man introduced himself as U’Mella Zopp and told them that he took notice of them because they looked like people who could be in used of some potions to help them get through the troubles that they face on the road. He offered to sell them a Potion of Ogre Strength, which they turned down claiming that strength is an area they don’t need any help in. U’Mella then offered up a Potion of Freezing, which could be thrown at a group of targets and freeze them in place. Jass took an interest in this potion and after some haggling and offering U’Mella a glass of her whiskey she purchased it.
They all sat, drank and talked for a bit, and they found that U’Mella travels around and makes his living selling and trading goods that he can get his hands on while making a bit of extra money playing his lute for some loot. Jass asked him if he knew anything about the Cragmaw’s and U’Mella mentioned that he has run into them from time to time and managed to avoid fights through some trickery. Jass then asked if he would be interested in joining them in scouting out the Cragmaw Castle and U’Mella said why not.
While they were drinking Jass noticed that her whiskey supply was starting to run a bit low and when Grok had a drink of the whiskey it didn’t seem as strong as it usually was, but Jass didn’t notice a difference. As the night wore on everyone adjourned to their rooms, and Jass and Grok filled Uvula in on their plans. Uvula agreed because he didn’t want to die.
The next morning Jass and Grok woke up and came down to the bar to find U’Mella already up and having an ale. Grok said something to U’Mella in Orcish, so U’Mella replied back in Infernal. U’Mella offered to buy a round for everyone before they went out. They all had their drinks and checked out of their rooms. On their way out of town they purchased mounts and Jass picked up Gundren’s Saddle that they had left on the cart of goods they delivered to Barthen.
Uvula guided them north into the woods and while at times seeming not too confident in himself he insisted they were on the right path. It got to be late in the day and they decided to make camp. After a day of traveling with together U’Mella revealed that he was a Teifling and shared a bit of his family’s history as to how the family was cursed when they accepted a cursed relic from a rival family, who offered it as a peace offering.
The night was not a very quiet night because during U’Mella’s watch he was practicing on his lute, and when Jass shot him a mean glare he stopped, tuned the lute a bit and went on playing. Other than that the night was uneventful.
In the morning they packed up camp and continued following Uvula. It wasn’t long until Grok suddenly felt sobered up and they were set upon by group of scouts that consisted of a Hobgoblin and two Goblins. Grok took on the Hobgoblin but missed on his initial attack. Meanwhile U’Mella leaned in and whispered something in the ear of a goblin who has stabbed him, which caused the Goblin to tear up and slit his own thoat. Uvula ran to hide behind a tree, and Jass lopped the head off of the other Goblin. Gork and the Hobgoblin continued to fight one another but each one blocking the other’s attacks.
Uvula came out of hiding after Jass killed the Goblin closest to him and he grabbed the goblin’s short bow. Jass gave him the dirtiest look possible and as she threatened to kill him if he tried anything he was so startled that the arrow he launched at the hobgoblin completely missed. Jass decided that she would trust Uvula with the bow, and then ran up and lopped the head clean off of the Hobgoblin’s shoulders. While looting the bodies Uvula tried to grab a shortsword too, but Grok and Jass wouldn’t allow it. Gork took the short sword and told Uvula that if he proved himself trustworthy that he might let him have it one day.
Not much further along they came across a very large clearing in the woods about 100 yards from where they were they could see Cragmaw Castle. The Castle appeared to once be an old Castle of Human design, but had long been abandoned and forgotten. They could tell that the castle had at one time consisted of seven towers most of the upper levels have since crumbled and become uninhabitable. The woods seemed to be mostly uniformly distant from the castle with only a few space trees or stones that could be used for cover while approaching.
The small group did not feel comfortable charging over the great distance without knowing any more so instead they thought they might try to find another group of scouts to interrogate. Marching through the woods less cautiously than before it did not take long for them to find another group of scouts who attacked them. U’Mella quickly charmed the Hobgoblin in charge of the group of scouts and Jass and Grok “dealt with” the Goblins.
With the Hobgoblin under U’Mella’s spell Jass asked the Hobgoblin for details about the castle’s defences. He warned them that there are archer’s who keep an eye on the perimeter, and that if they leave the Goblin’s to watch on their own that they are not always very vigilant, but with news of a guest coming to the castle that security has been heightened. When asked who this guest was the Hobgoblin only knew that it was a Drow. Jass asked if there were any prisoners, and the Hobgoblin confirmed that there was a Dwarf that King Grol was keeping on orders from The Black Spider. The Hobgoblin knew that The Black Spider wanted to keep the prisoner alive so he could take them to the Wave Echo Cave. When asked about how many forces lived in Cragmaw Castle the hobgoblin took a moment to think and said that there were a lot of them and they even had a couple of Owlbears trapped in the southeast tower.
Jass and Grok were debating storming the castle and at least using the Freezing potion that U’Mella sold Jass to help them grab Gundren and run, but at this point U’Mella knew he had to come clean that he swindled Jass and that the potion was nothing more than colored water. He gave jass back her money, and was relieved that his scheme didn’t get himself killed. Everyone decided that it would probably be best if they waited for the whole party to come together and attack as one. U’Mella told the Hobgoblin to return to the Castle to tell King Grol that there is an Owlbear out in the woods that killed the rest of his team and may have attacked and killed other groups of scouts, and the Hobgoblin obeyed.
Jass was now totally out of whiskey and with Grok’s ability to detect danger being dependant on his alcohol dependency, they decided it would be wise to return home to Neverwinter to restock. Upon returning to Neverwinter Jass took some time to craft an emblem of the Blackforge family and secure it onto her new shield. that evening they heard a town crier announcing that there was to be a tournament the next day and more competitors were able to sign up. This peaked Jass and Grok’s interest and the inquired further. There was a 50 GP entry fee, 1,000 GP prize, and the format was to be one on one battles allowing for use of magic and weapons, but with magical safeguards to protect people from death. Jass and Grok both signed up, but U’Mella was smart enough to know he was going to make more money in the audience than he could trying to fight anyone.
The next day everyone showed up to “The Hex” (which I stupidly drew as an octagon instead of a hexagon) for the tournament, most of the hopeful contenders were the type you would expect to see; Fighters, Rogues, Barbarians, but there was one rather weak looking Druid among the crowd who seemed out of place.
Grok entered the arena first, and he was matched up against a human Barbarian, who tried to get the upper hand against Grok through trying to overpower him with grapples and and suplexes, but ultimately was not able to bring him down and Grok swung his Raptor with a flying leap right for the fighter’s eye, and was suddenly stopped by the divine magics of the officiating Clerics. the Barbarian pissed himself and ran away, while Grok celebrated a fine victory.
Next Jass had to fight a Mountain Dwarf Fighter who put up a decent fight, but clearly wasn’t a match for Jass. Talon working in concert with Jass’ inner rage made every blow she landed much stronger than she ever expected. The crowd went wild as Jass quickly dealt with this poor fighter.
Between rounds the contenders were given a chance to rest up and get back ready for the next round. U’Mella assisted in getting them ready with some inspiration and a song to help them rest and soon they were ready for round 2.
Now Grok was paired up against a Halfling Rogue who kept him on his toes by sneaking past him to make sneak attacks and utilizing dual attacks. The fight was a close call, but in the end Grok once again emerged the victor.
Jass then found herself across the hex from the Druid they had noticed earlier. As soon as the match began the druid transformed into a bear. Jass and the bear didn’t bother with any formalities of trying to maneuver around one another, instead they both stood their ground and fought with all of their might. Jass went into a frenzied rage as Talon continually cut into the bear’s form. Eventually after a mighty swing the Bear shrank back down into the frail form of the Druid, and Jass thought that the battle was all but hers, until suddenly the Druid grinned and once again grew into the form of the large bear that Jass just faced. The two of them continued to lay into each other as the crowd roared and cheered at each gruesom blow. Once again Jass forced the Druid out of the Bear form and she went to make the killing blow when suddenly Talon was held back by the Spells of the Clerics watching over the fight.
Now Jass and Grok were about to face each other in the final round of the tournament. They were both in a rough state after their second round fights and U’Mella helped to get them both healed up to their peak state. The two friends entered the Hex ready to see who would emerge victorious. Jass went right into a frenzied rage and the fight began. Both landing strong hits on the other, but Jass’ rage let her fight through the pain and Gork had a very close brush with defeat until his Orcish blood instilled a second wind in him. He got in a couple more swings at Jass, but she once again came in for a finishing blow. Jass felt the Clerics magic attempt to stop Talon, but somehow her attack was not held back and Talon ripped through Grok’s abdomen, and the audience exploded into ravenous applause mixed with gasps of awe.
Jass stood over Grok’s body seeing the life drain out of him and her rage suddenly subsided giving way to shock and exhaustion. U’Mella saw all of this happen and immediately cast Healing word to save Grok from bleeding out. Grok came to starting up at Jass still looming over him. Jass silently exited the Hex grabbing the sack of prize money and leaving. U’Mella helped Grok to his feet and asked, “What’s that all about?” but grok had no idea.
U’Mella and Gork returned to Jass’ house where they found her silently drinking and working away at her forge. Gork seemed unshaken by the events of the fight and even tried to get a high five from Jass for the awesome fight, but Jass was clearly shaken. She explained that she believed that it was the dark magic of Talon that broke through and caused her to almost kill Grok. They deturmined that they needed to look into what could be done to banish the spirit that cursed Talon, and planned to go in search of a powerful Cleric in the morning. That night, Jass spent time to craft a large flask to give to Grok that which carried the crest of the Trensendar family on one side and a Holy Symbol of his god on the other. She filled this flask with her finest whiskey and gave it to him along with a couple of handaxes (because in the tournament he found himself useless when he was out of melee range) as an apology for what had happened.
Upon morning they, went out to find a temple where they could get the spirit banished from Talon. It didn’t take them too long until they found a temple where one of the clerics who had been officiating at the tournament told them that he might be able to help them. He told them that there were no guarantees with the obviously powerful nature of this spirit (it having overpowered several of the clerics at the tournament), and it would cost them 300 GP to attempt the banishment. After a bit of thought Jass decided that she had to do it before she did any more harm to anyone she cared about. With some aid from Grok’s own prayers and a bit of inspiration from U’Mella the spirit was driven out of the blade taking the form of a hawk as black as night that was held and constricted by the divine magic of the Cleric until it finally blinked out of existence.
Everyone then set out to return to Phandalin, it was an uneventful and still somber journey, as Jass thought upon what had happened in the Hex. Upon their return to Phandalin they checked in with the Townmaster to find out of the rest of the party had returned. The townmaster told them that the others have still not yet arrived back from their errands, and after a few hard glares exchanged between Grok and the townmaster they made their exit and returned to the bar at the Inn.
While Drinking Grok could tell that something was still a bit off with Jass, and she told him that she was still shaken up by what had happened in the Hex, and how it reminded her of Soulbreaker. Soulbreaker is the name that her family had given to a powerful greatsword that her mother made years ago for a noble family who never paid for the sword. The cost of creating the sword bankrupted Jass’ family and Soulbreaker went missing. Grok recalled that his human father had commissioned a greatsword from a local smith and that sword was never received. Jass and Grok sat there unsure what to say to each other When suddenly through the doors of the Inn came the rest of their companions returning from all of their adventures.
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