The party is hired to travel to Nightstone, a hamlet found between Waterdeep and Daggerford. There has been trouble with the wood elves of the area in recent times; House Nandar, the governor of the territory, put up a hunting lodge in wood elf territory for pleasure hunting, and the elves had retaliated and killed half the lodge’s occupant, including the high steward of Nightstone. The party is being tasked to investigate the genealogy of the steward’s wife, Velrosa Nandar and the new high steward of Nightstone, to ascertain the legitimacy of her inheritance.
It is just before sunset and after some days of eventless travel, that the trio arrive at a fork showing the way to Nightstone. They opt to walk the remaining few miles to the village hoping to make it to supper. As they travel through the forest, though, they hear the unending tolling of a bell, and discover that it is coming from Nightstone itself.
Nightstone is a village that bisects a river, which has formed a moat around it. It has palisades for defense, and a keep in the eastern side. The party notes that the ramp between the keep and the village has been broken in the middle, and that the watchtowers flanking the drawbridge are empty. The party cautiously but openly approaches.
From the drawbridge, they can see that the square ahead of them is empty except for a large crater and a boulder in the middle. There are many boulders botting the place. Silas moves ahead and skulks to the temple at the left of the drawbridge, which is the source of the bell sounds. As Silas inspects the temple, which seems to hold the motif of many gods (one of them Lathander), Garonne and Denithione outside see the figure of two massive wargs gorging on a cow. Deni and Garonne head up a watchtower and promptly pelts the wargs with magic and arrows. The wargs eventually realize that they cannot get up to the two, and hide behind some boulders. Deni and Garonne give chase, but the wargs circle around and ambush them, knocking Deni down even as she kills one of the wargs.
Meanwhile, in the temple, Silas finds the source of the bell’s movement — two goblins are in the bellroom playing with it. He locks them in and exits the temple, where he is able to assist Garonne in dispatching the remaining warg.
Nearby is the Nightstone Inn. Silas scouts it and finds that the middle has been smashed through with another large boulder, which has gone in from the roof and through its upper floor to the mess hall. A dead goblin, freshly slain, is also on the floor, an arrow through its neck.
Garonne finds a female human in robes is upstairs, who insist that she is a monk of Lathander. Her leg is hurt, which is why she has been unable to escape with the rest of the villagers. It seems that there was an attack at the village with the boulders some time during the day, which came from a castle in the clouds, and when she had come to the village was swarming with goblins. Kela, the girl, says that she is only visiting the village. Garonne and Denithione feel that she is lying about something, but only Deni continues to prod at her for information.
Kela reluctantly reveals that she had been here to study the Nightstone, an actual obsidian phlint in the middle of the town square with magical runes on it. During the attack, four giants had come down from the castle and taken it. The dwarven innkeep had rallied the villagers to evacuate them to the hill caves north of the village. Kela says the village had about 40 people in it.
Meanwhile, Silas, who had tired of the interrogation long ago, leaves his party members to explore the village. He comes upon the Lion Coaster trading post, which is basically the town’s general store, and finds a lone goblin looting the place. He catches the goblin in a barrel and rolls it over for further interrogation by Garonne.
Garonne uses Thaumaturgy to boom his voice louder, and speaks to the goblin in orkish. The goblin in the barrel mistakes Garonne for his boss, and tells them that the villagers ran into a cave — their cave. The goblins had nothing to do with the rocks, however, so Garonna satisfies himself with the interrogation and manacles the goblin.
As they are leaving to look for the villagers, seven figures on horseback enter the village via the drawbridge. They are all in black leather armor and are heavily armed — they call themselves the Seven Snakes, a group of bandits with a reputation for odd targets. Their leader, Zolkin, steps forward and blithely questions them on their purpose here. Kela materializes behind Deni and returns to Zolkin a snake. It seems that Kela had sent a message after being forced by Deni’s questions, and these are people she works with.
Zolkin interrogates their goblin captive before ruthlessly killing it. As Zolkin threatens them and they argue about whether or not Zolkin should spare their lives, they hear the sound of an orc bugle in the distance. There is a troop of thirty orcs coming up in the distance, though some seem injured. The party and the bandits reluctantly agree on a truce to fend off these orcs and set to work preparing for a siege.
Garonne broadcasts his voice from the watchtower to speak with the orcs, and the orcs mistake him as one of them. Apparently, Gurash and his band had been in a skirmish with wood elves, who are hot on their heels in pursuit. They demand to be let in. Garonne reveals himself to be a half-elf, which sends Gurash into a rage. He promises to get in, and retreats to ready his troops.
As the party and the bandits get ready and reprovision, Garonne hears a voice in his head…
The goblins that they haven’t dealt with in the village emerge to take potshots at the group, though they are very quickly disposed of. Garonne and Deni assist the bandits in repelling the orcs from climbing up the palisades, while Silas toils on securing them an escape route behind the keep. It’s as he’s doing this that he bumps into the guards who have hunkered in the keep the entire time. There are four of them, with their captain Siderie. Silas bids them to hide for a while, since he’s unwilling to deal with them, and continues to build his evacuation route.
The orcs find the prospect of getting burned and shot at while scaling the palisades to be too daunting, and after being challenged by Garonne, Gurash changes tack and moves to bring his forces to the gap in the wall where the ramp to the keep is. Silas bids Deni and Garonne to come to the keep side so he can trap the Snakes in with the orcs, but Garonne stays on the village side, forcing Silas to follow him on that side. Meanwhile, Deni commandeers the guards in the keep and rallies them to help in the battle. While Thorim is reluctant, Alara agrees and begin preparing crossbows at the keep roof. They prepare pitch and fire, which prove useful against the mass of orcs later on.
Silas and Garonne engage Gurash from the palisades. Silas gets a good hit in before Gurash clobbers him half to death, which prompts Garonne to humiliate Gurash in front of his band “for choosing to fight a child”. An attack at Garonne with the intervention of Valkur ends Gurash, however, and a victorious Garonne uses the orc chief’s severed head to dissuade the other orcs from continuing their frenzy. The orcs retreat, chased by an incoming battalion of wood elves.
The skirmish over and done with, the party realizes that the bandits have fled the village via the drawbridge. They retrieve some potions and a cypher from their dead and leftover saddlebags; here, Deni finds out a Zenth encryption stating, “The town is ready, come soon. — K”
The party discusses their next actions. While the village has been saved from the orcs, the villagers themselves remain missing, and in danger of having walked into a goblin-occupied cave.
In the keep, the guards somberly show them the body of the Lady Velrosa Nandar, who perished upon being hit by a boulder as she was helping the villagers evacuate.
Next up, the Dripping Caves!