The High Road
Chapter 2: The Seven Suns Coster Market
Located in the heart of Neverwinter’s Protector’s Enclave, the Seven Suns Coster Market is an open-air market where merchants set up stalls daily to sell their wares. Great archways lead into the courtyard of a plaster building decorated in shades of ochre and mustard. Banners of red fabric stretched across the courtyard provide shade for the bustling market below, where crows of citizens browse the well-stocked stalls that line each wall.
“This is definitely the place” explains Elivania, “I’d like to find a merchant selling paper for my music, I’ll ask about Milo’s stall while I’m there” she says while walking away.
“Let’s try to find some supplies, Isaac” Amethyst says, with almost a motherly tone.
“Hello lovely lady, would you like some fine silks, I also have exquisite earrings” the barker yells as Amethyst gets closer.
“Actually I’d like to buy some potions, do you know where I could find some around here” She says dispassionately.
“Yes, Thurgood stall, four down on your left has potions, but please try on some of these silks, they will make you come alive” the barker says following a short distance as the two walk away.
“Hello, are you Thurgood? I’m looking for some potions of healing” Amethyst says to the merchant under a small tent
“Yes, yes, I am Thurgood, I have three such potions, not very strong, but if you find you need them, they are a literal life-saver.”
“Perfect, I’ll take all three, thank you” Amethyst says dropping a coin purse in his lap as Elivania runs up.
“Milo’s stall is down the end on the left, come with me” says Elivania looking a little unsettled by the throngs on people jostling back and forth
Walking up to the stall, the party finds a male halfing in his late 40s arguing with a female Calishite.
“Damnit, you know these are supposed to be stacked with those, Samira, how am I going to keep track if everything is in the wrong place?” the halfling says sternly.
“Hello, are you Milo Goodbarrel, Gundren sent us to pick up his cart” Elivania explains, cutting into the fight.
Milo catches himself, fixes his tunic and says “Uh oh yes, Gundren’s cart, of course. Samira watch the shop for a bit, I have to show these people to the cart we’ve been filling. Follow me, it’s just around back”
As they round the corner they see a well-laden cart hitched to two oxen, and a quiet half-orc groomsman minding the cart and oxen.
“Moz, this is the party taking this cart off our hands.” Milo says while taking a parchment out of an inner pocket of his tunic.
“Ok, two oxen, one cart, twelve sacks flour, three casks salted pork, two kegs strong ale, twelve shovels, twelve picks, twelve crowbars, five lanterns, and a small barrel of oil. You are, of course, welcome to inspect the merchandise and confirm that everything is present and in order.” reads Milo and hands the parchment to Elivania.
“When you are in Phandalin, if you happen to see the widow Qelline Alderleaf at the Alderleaf Farm, would you be so kind as to send her my regards?” Milo requests with a hint of sadness. He thinks for a minute on growing up in Phandalin, and courting Qelline in his youth. While Qelline was tempted by Milo’s overtures, he was considered at the time a bit of a ruffian and a ne’er-do-well about town. Qelline made the pragmatic decision to marry the farmer Hob Alderleaf instead, and having been spurned, Milo departed for Neverwinter, never to return. Even though he subsequently reversed his fortunes, becoming a capable and respected merchant, Qelline was content as a wife, mother, and farmer, and Milo had no interest in disturbing her happy life in Phandalin.
The party then hopped up on the cart and began their travels down the High Road towards Phandalin.
Chapter 3: The Inquisitive Bard
After a day spent traveling down the High road, passing the occasional caravan or family traveling up from Waterdeep the sun is setting behind the western hills. Cicadas begin to chirp from the trees on the side of the road, and the exhaustion of the long day’s travel begins to drag at their limbs. Then, Elivania smells it: the thick, savory scent of cooking meat and vegetables mixed with the smoky smell of a campfire. A faint light flickers from within the trees about fifty feet ahead. Elivania sneaks forward to investigate and finds a youthful, clean-shaven half-elf man sits at the side of a tidy campfire, roasting a juicy cut of meat on a spit and cooking hearty roots and vegetables by the side of the fire. He wears a simple traveler’s cap, which his black hair curls out from underneath. He looks up and smiles at Elivania. The light dances on his copper-brown skin and sparkles in his hazel eyes. “Are you travelers?” he asks. He beckons the group over, and says “Folk call my Zemmy; I’m a wandering bard looking for a new tale to sing songs about. Come and sit, I’ll trade you plenty of food for a few good stories.” as he speaks he idly plucks upon the strings of a beautiful, ornate lute. He wears a copper ring in the shape of a serpentine dragon coiling its tail into it’s jaws.
The group settles in and starts to eat, while sharing tales of their adventures, some real, some borrowed from others, and some made up completely. As Isaac gets tired and starts to fall asleep Zemmy gives him a shake and requests more stories “You’re adventurers, aren’t you? You have countless tales to tell. I need them, those stories. After all, every dragon needs a hoard.”
As his words ring in the air, Zemidriath transforms into his true draconic form and attempts to physically block the group from leaving. Amethyst pleads with Zemmy to let them go, they do not have any more stories and he is frightening them. Zemmy contemplates his actions for a moment, then apologizes profusely. “If I had realized that I was being cruel to you, I never would have kept you?” he says, wiping tears from his face. “I would love to hear more stories from you in the future, but I understand if you never want to see me ever again. I’ll let you get some sleep now.” then he takes flight and disappears into the night sky.
The next morning the party loads back up onto the cart and begins down the High Road again. They pass an old tree on a hill and are certain they see a man standing beside the tree watching them, but when they look again, there is nothing. The trip is mostly uneventful, though they almost ruin a wheel hitting a deep hole in the road but manage to escape unfettered.
Twilight is nearly upon them as they crest one of the many low, round hills that have become quite familiar to them over the last two days of travel. Below them, in the distance, they see the trailhead where the Triboar Trail departs from the High Road, heading inland.
At the junction, a hulking ogre swings a massive club at an armor-cladded knight and his companion. A horse, presumably the knight’s mount, lays dead in the roadway, its head crushed by the ogre’s club. As the party gets closer, the knight notices and yells out “I’d appreciate a little help here”.
The party jumps into action, swinging weapons and casting spells until eventually the ogre is felled with a large thud. The knight bows to the party and says “Thank you for your help. I am Bartolome Davrosa, a Turami knight of the Order of the Gauntlet, and this is Sithra Greymoor, Priest of Torm, and she is also of the Order. I suggest for our safety we camp together tonight.”
Sitting around the campfire Bartolome asks “Have you seen any other ogres in your travels?”
“None, but we met a dragon” Isaac says exuberantly.
“And you lived to tell the tale, you must be quite lucky” Bartolome says somewhat unbelieving. “We have been traveling north along the High Road from Waterdeep to investigate reports of disturbances. That particular ogre had previously robbed and killed a travelling cheesemonger further south down the High Road and we tracked him here.” he says stoking the fire. “This isn’t an isolated incident, others of our Order have reported giant attacks elsewhere in the region, and part of our mission is to collect intelligence from our colleagues in Neverwinter.”
“We just came from Neverwinter, on our way to Phandalin” says Isaac, eagerly.
The next morning Bartolome and Sithra are packing up and hands Amethyst a sealed parchment addressed to a certain Daran Edermath. “Please give this to Daran Edermath at the Edermath Orchards in Phandalin when you arrive. You have been very helpful to me, and I think he might help you in return. Safe journeys.”
With that, the party splits and goes its separate ways.