Act4: Burning Balentyne

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Arriving Quietly

The journey to Aldencross from the lake shore was a short and uneventful one. You were careful, and your arrival in the small sleepy northern town was unnoticed. With your iron circlets, disguising yourselves was no challenge —and a little mundane skill took care of Timeon's appearance.

Aldencross is a market town and it is not rare for smaller traders to come from all over to peddle their goods here. This will not be seen as suspicious or anything unusual. Adventurers bound for the savage north are not unknown. Frankly, the idea that a band of Talireans would conspire with bugbears to break the Watch Wall is unthinkable to the common folk. Your little band of villains has had no trouble moving freely within the town…

Aldencross

  • LG small town
  • Corruption +0; Crime +0; Economy +2; Law +1; Lore +0; Society +2
  • Qualities: pious, prosperous, strategic location
  • Danger -5

DEMOGRAPHICS

  • Government autocracy chosen by the monarchy in Matharyn.
  • Population 1,800 (1,500 humans;150 dwarves; 50 halflings; 100 other)
  • Notable NPCs: Lord Thomas Havelyn, commander of Balentyne and Lord of Aldencross; Father Donnagin, priest of Mitra; Tacitus of Morimun, magister; Bellam Barhold, owner of the Lord’s Dalliance.

MARKETPLACE

  • Base Value 1,400 gp; Purchase Limit 7500 gp;
  • Spellcasting 3rd level divine, 4th level arcane

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The Lord’s Dalliance

Though Aldencross is a sizeable town, there is only one inn that caters to travellers — “The Lord’s Dalliance”. It is a pleasant enough place with strong drink and adequate food. In the evenings there are often off-duty soldiers and even the occasional watch captain. Dancing girls and comely bar maids ply the soldiers eager to earn a share of the king’s gold. Lord Havelyn is never seen here. The grizzled old commander disapproves of such diversions and is always at his post in the fortress.

Your band of villains reserved two large rooms here, enough for the 6 of you (including Timeon) to have adequate space and still be close to each other by staying 3 to a room.

You also spent time carousing and observing, and gathering all manner of rumors:

  • "Have you ever been to the choir hall of Balentyne? Amazing! The priests are such beautiful singers and sometimes the stone saints that adorn the place join in the chorus. Such a miracle!" (You have not confirmed the truth or falsehood of this yet.)
  • "Mad Martin is a strange one! He tends the rook- ery in the Watchtower. They say he never leaves except for necessities. He talks to the birds like people and has named every one!" (You have not confirmed the truth or falsehood of this yet.)
  • "Balentyne’s magister, that creepy Tacitus, has been spending a lot of time working on something in his tower! I don’t know what it is, but it’s said that something unnatural was recovered from the north." (You have not confirmed the truth or falsehood of this yet.)
  • "Ye Merrie Men are coming to town and the hand- some William Marcus Marlow is coming with them! Can you believe it? The Bard of Barrington! Here! They are doing the “Fall of Am- berlyn”! Oh, I can’t wait!" (True, there are flyers posted all over town. What’s more, they are playing a one night exclusive inside the watchtower for the soldiery.)
  • "They say the bugbears are massing up north. I wonder what their up to? Well, it doesn’t matter! We’ll be ready for ‘em! You’d think those shaggy walking carpets would have learned by now that the Watch Wall is unbreakable!" (Partially True. The bugbears are massing as you well know, but the Watch Wall is far from unbreakable as you are here to prove. But, this is a common belief about town.)
  • "Have you had any of Mama Guisseppe’s beef stew? Delicious! I hear she goes up to the Watchtower and cooks a big batch of it for the men every Monday! What a nice old lady." (True. You found her house, and her garden, and confirmed the rumor. Mama Guisseppe’s beef stew is a fine opportunity to poison the garrison at Balentyne, if you can gather enough poison. Shu'unn found a lot of arsenic at the local alchemist's shop; it would cost 240gp for his entire stock, and you'd need a convincing story to avoid arousing suspicion. Your party also found some toxic plants through foraging, and there may be other avenues for this…)
  • "Did you hear about prisoners escaping from Branderscar? Were they ever caught?" (Not yet.)
  • "I hear Captain Varning is leading another patrol out tomorrow. I wonder how long they’ll be gone this time? The last time they were gone for five days! If you ask me, these patrols are a waste of time. They’re just an excuse for Varning to get out of the tower and gallivant around the country-side instead of doing his fair share of guard duty." (True and False. Varning will be leading a patrol of six men, you confirmed this chatting up one of the guards. However, these patrols are an important part of keeping the Borderlands secure, not just an excuse to go camping.)
  • "Soldiers today! A worthless, shiftless lot! Balentyne is in total disarray. Soldiers today are too lazy –-not like in my day." (False. Utterly false. Balentyne is anything but in disarray. Unless something is done to weaken it, the watchtower will repulse any attack from the north.)
  • "There’s a pack of dwarves in town led by a grumpy short fellow named Barnabus Eisenbauch. They’re here to fix up the watchtower or so I’ve heard. A hard working fellow —just don’t challenge him to a drinking contest. He’ll drink you under the table every time!" (At least partially True. You've met the dwarves, they are indeed staying at the inn, and you chatted them up; Nellah even asked to see what they're working on under the guise of being a competing supplier. While you have confirmed that the dwarves drink a lot and hold it well, you have not challenged Barnabus to a contest.)

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The Secret Passage

The Lord’s Dalliance was once a brothel. This is common knowledge about town. When the Mitran regime of Markadian I came to power, many such venerable institutions shut their doors by decree of the king. That was almost eighty years ago. Since then the Inn has reinvented itself and returned to profitability keeping it’s vaguely risqué name.

A secret passage constructed by dwarven miners links the basement of the brothel to the castle. This was done so that one overly amorous lord centuries ago could visit his favorite “companion” without rousing the ire of his jealous and ever watchful wife. The passage remains to this day and has been almost entirely forgotten.

Your first night at The Lord's Dalliance, you were awoken by the sounds of someone creeping around in the inn. You saw Bellam, the innkeeper, heading quietly to the door that leads down to the basement. That night, the Inn was almost empty and the basement was not locked. The Inn’s basement proved to be simply a storage area where great casks of ale, sacks of flour, joints of meat and bins full of root vegetables await consumption.

Following Bellam carefully, you watched as he opened a very well hidden secret door and headed down a long tunnel. The door was activated by depressing one particular slightly off-color stone. After a little deliberation, you sent Shu'unn to scout it out and discovered that it does indeed lead to the basement of the Balentyne, some sort of storeroom or vault under the armory.
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The Dangers of a Drunken Dwarf

Barnabus Eisenbauch and ten dwarven workmen have been sent to Balentyne to inspect the watchtower and to refurbish its aging gatehouse. This is not a short-term project. Barnabus and his crew are expecting to work here for years.

There is no space for them in the watchtower, so the dwarves are being quartered in the Lord’s Dalliance Inn. Six days a week at first light, they wake, eat breakfast and trudge up the hill to the watchtower for a hard day’s work. At night, they return to the Inn to eat, drink an unprecedented amount of ale, chat in dwarven about the tower, and to play dwarven card games no one else in town understands. Such is the life of Eisenbauch’s men. On the seventh day –-they just skip straight to the drinking. This is what passes for a dwarven religious ceremony.

You saw an opportunity here. In Barnabus’ room upstairs was a map of the entire watchtower (save for the secret door in the basement) that he drew as part of his survey. Several of you snuck into his room, read and copied the map, and as a result had the entire floor plan of Balentyne handed to you…:

BalentyneBlueprints.jpg

In the dwarf Barnabus' room, you discovered blueprints for the Balentyne.

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To be continued…


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