A half-orc without a name has established a small garden outside the waterside town of Hard Earth. One afternoon he finds his secret garden vandalised and his newest horticultural invention a plumcot tree sliced in two with the fruit missing.
With a very big chip on his shoulder he heads to the most likely place where he might find the culprit(s) – The Battered Wife – a bar in the small port town. He uses his subtle information gathering skills to search out possible vandals by whatever is the opposite of subtly checking the fingernails of patrons. He challenges two trappers to an arm wrestle which instigates a fight and an innocent gnome wizard Baba (who cleverly enters the fight using feet rather than weapons or magic) is seriously injured (his leg may never heal) by a stray right hook with a spiked gauntlet attached to a half-orc arm. A stream of seaman (like what I did there although it’s more a riverport than a seaport) looking for a fight get battered into submission by the oversized barbarian (though if you call him that he will tell you “I not barbarian, I rogue.”) and a monk who joins the fight on the side of I Rogue for reasons known only to her. I Rogue manages to almost kill the gnome a second time after Baba momentarily recovers before going to the rescue of the monk, Isla Fairhaven, who is in more than a little bother with one of the boaters. A second mysterious female puts paid to two more boaters then disappears out the door and the remaining boaters, trappers and others retreat leaving I Rogue to rush the unconscious and fading monk and gnome to the healer.
For a fee they are revived and set on the path of recovery by a small goblin cleric of Pelor, Turin Marash. In the little backroom of the temple of Pelor the group find a couple of patients in various stages of recovery and stabilisation (some due to I Rogue and his great club) including a maimed barbarian BT Barakus who bears numerous wounds and injuries.
The barbarian is the focus of a yelling match outside the healer’s ward involving a halfling, Gene Semens, (who the party met in the Battered Wife earlier) as he stands (lies) accused of attacking a temple Gene’s sister belongs to. BT Barakus tells them (unwillingly) that he was part of a group called the Bared Teeth that attacked the temple in the forest and raped and murdered cultists but were attacked by crazed animals. Upon hearing about the rape Gene attacks BT Barakus and inflicts a fatal blow despite the protection of the party and the ministrations of Turin.
Isla pays for another day’s recovery while I Rogue and Baba head out to find out more about the Charmed Brethren. They spend a night resting and the next day meet a trio of strange characters. First they are accosted on the street by Bigubu Beaze who ushers them into his shop full of preserved specimens, strange and unique contraptions and collectibles and lots and lots of locks. Bigubu tells them the cultists are the Charmed Brethren and some had recently been customers in his shop. He also suggests the Sage as someone who might know more.
Next Baba follows an old lady into her shack where she sells used items, clothing, vegetables and fruit (but not plumcots) and home cooked delicacies (that may or may not contain plumcots). She gives them some tasty treats and the advice to see the Sage for more information.
The pair see the Sage and discover information ain’t free. They make a deal with the Sage to collect some herbs and mushrooms the Sage wants and return to get a little information about who the Charmed Brethren are and some other stuff that they will just have to remember themselves…
All three set out the next day and talk to shepherds and other people they meet along the way. They pick up tidbits about druids, cultists, local beasties and the life of frontier settlers. At the end of the first day they set up camp in the forest and are visited in the night by wolves who come as far as into the firelight before retreating into the forest. Baba has a chat with a rabbit and is told about “new druids” but fumbles through his first subterranean mammalian conversation so doesn’t get much help. The night finishes with a lone wolf turning up in the hour before dawn with the rabbit in its jaws.
The next day the party push on into the densely forested foothills and come to a stream which they can’t get across. They make their way upstream and find a place to cross. I Rogue swims across and secures a rope so the others can follow. First Isla swims across then Baba follows on his donkey but slides off midstream and slips into the water and moments later unconsciousness. He is saved but almost costs his new friend his life (1 all). His donkey is ashore but his echidna is not across as far as anyone knows…