Freezing and penniless, the adventurers were abandoned on a road in the central Vlenyik Peninsula, two days south of a small city named Kylamm.
Gideon, Ithas and Ahab each wandered into the woods along the road as they made their way north to find better weapons than the rusty, dull knives the bandits had given them, Gideon fashioning a quarterstaff, Ithas a sharpened stick to be used as a spear, and Ahab a stout cudgel.
Upon nearing the town, they saw a low, wooden wall that was halfway built, with no gate, and no town watch monitoring who goes in and out of the town. Venturing to the circular park that is the city square, they saw an ancient monument, no more than a boulder at this point, with a bronze plaque covered in strange writing set into it. All three characters can read the common human language, and none of them recognized the script, even the highly-educated fighter/mage Gideon and the wise cleric Ahab. A few small gardens, lawns and a small open area make up the center of town, from which the “spokes on a wheel” pattern of roads travel to the rest of the city.
After inquiring as to where they could find an open tavern to warm themselves by a fire, they were directed to one of the three taverns, the Tin Cup, a filthy place with rancid smells in the kitchen, serving the low area of town called the “dock warren,” where transients and the most impoverished of Kylamm citizens live. After a short introduction with Neal Brooch, the barkeep, they saw the first evidence of the thugs that rule the city streets, as one of the Mad Hatchets got into a heated argument with Brooch over paying his tribute to the thieves for their “protection.”
Ahab, a cleric to the goddess of charity, offered to draw more patrons to the Tin Cup by offering his blessings on the poor of the town, and providing sagely advice to any who asked. Brooch agreed to provide a dirty room for the three of them, as well as whatever leftovers his kitchen could offer for as long as Ahab was willing to provide this service.
Seeing a second of the Hatchets passed out in a corner, Ithas attempted to snag the broad-bladed knife off of his person, and only succeeded in waking the man, who after some grumbles, fell back onto the table and went back to sleep.
Gideon, speaking to Brooch, discovered that the local Merchants’ guild, rulers of the city, were offering a bounty on goblin heads, as the recent raids on the merchants wagons coming and going from the city and the Acrian iron mine to the north have left the guild at a loss, and unable to afford the cost of the town watch, or even guards on the wagons and barges themselves. They were instructed to head to the northeast part of town, where the wealthy merchants make their homes, and attend Theaodril Roisden, the liaison between the guild and the Kylamm citizenry.
Passing through the town square again, Gideon and Ithas see what appears to be a funeral procession, with five young women, a woman approaching her middle years, and a young man of perhaps 16 walking through the square with flowers, black clothing and the ceremonial black horse, but no body. Upon asking a fellow passerby, the pair discover that it is the Doretea family, the father of which (an accomplished hunter and trapper) went missing a few weeks ago. It is assumed the goblins killed him on one of his forays into the woods in the north. The passerby also tells the pair what he knows of Roisden and the Guild, both he has a profound dislike for, as his taxes keep raising, and the services provided by the Guild keep disappearing. Ithas asks about the decrepit city wall, and learns that the Guild can no longer afford to pay for its construction. He also learns that most able-bodied men have gone north to the mine, either to work in the mine or the new mill, or to take up arms as guards employed by the Acrian nobleman who owns and operates the mine (he operates it remotely, through a servant/slave who runs the mine for him). The guild can also no longer afford law enforcement, hence the rise of the Mad Hatchets.
Gideon and Ithas make it to the Silver Chalice, a stark contrast from the Tin Cup, and smell the delicious foods found within, and spot the wine racks with their expensive vintages, Ithas immediately notes that Roisden, at a corner table collecting taxes, keeps a small sack of coin as well as a small chest near the desk. His three slaves feverishly scribble notes about each of the accounts. Together the pair approach Roisden, confront his haughtiness and the way he looks down his nose, both note his overweight and fine clothes, and hear about the bounty. 5 silver pieces for each goblin head. They try to pry for provisions, but Roisden will have none of it. He doesn’t hand out money for nothing. However, (after a successful charisma check), he does agree that if they were to return with no less than four goblin heads, he would be willing to help them find provisions for more forays to bring back more goblin heads.
Clyff Doretea Jr. enters the Chalice, throwing down some fur pelts on Roisden’s table as his taxes, and immediately the pair start screaming at each other over tax agreements made with Clyff Sr, and how since his death, those agreements are no longer valid, and the Guild has the freedom to make up a new contract with Clyff Jr. This deal will see him, his mother, and his sisters, homeless by winter’s end.
While this is going on, Ahab catches up to the party, and tells of how he learned from residents of the dock warren (called the rat warren by the wealthy on this side of town) that they are very unhappy with both the thugs taking their hard-earned money, and the Merchants’ Guild’s ever-growing taxes. Many are worried that they will not have enough money to survive the winter.
Clyff storms out of the Chalice, and the party decides to follow him, Ahab driven by the desire to at least give the final blessings on Clyff Sr’s memory for the family. When they get to the street, they see Clyff Jr in yet another screaming match, this time with another of the Hatchets (noted by the small black club each thug has hanging from a leather strap on their belts). The thug seems to think that since Clyff had enough money to pay his taxes, he should also have enough to pay his tribute to the Hatchets. The party tries to interfere, the Thug warns them off. Ahab steps up to warn the thug about the fate of his “eternal soul,” and the thug takes a wild swing with his club, missing Ahab’s head by inches.
Gideon, a former soldier in the Acrian Imperial Army, immediately jumps into action, and taking his quarterstaff, assaults the thug, cracking his skull. The thug crumples into a heap, and with a loud “tsk tsk,” Ahab bends to make sure that the thug will survive the encounter. Clyff Jr, laughing, invites the trio to his home for a meal. Ithas takes the Thug’s club, knife, belt, boots and coat, distributing the goods among his party. There is some dispute about what to do with the money taken from the man, as Ahab would like to give the money to charity.
Arriving at the Doretea residence, they learn of one of the daughters’ illness, which turns out to be an impacted, infected tooth. With Gideon’s help, Ahab removes the tooth and heals the wound. Mrs Doretea cannot be more grateful, and offers them what she still has of Clyff Sr’s winter clothing. Gideon and Ithas remain for at least a while at the Doretea home, whileAhab returns to the Tin Cup to continue aiding the poor. Nighttime is approaching, Ithas and Gideon stay for a meal.
Clyff Jr. informs the remaining pair of the Old Mill, if they are to travel north, they can look to the old Acrian Lumber Mill (a new mill exists along the same river, much farther to the north near the Acrian iron mine) for a place to stay that has some remaining shelter and even a fireplace. Most goblin activity has been seen along that river to the north as wagons and barges travel north to the mine. He also tells them that he has some small amount of supplies hidden in the floorboards, from when he and his father would stay there while trapping furs. The party can pay him back for them once they make some money on the bounty.
There was some talk, although the party may not have come to an agreement, of donating the money taken from the thug to the Doretea family.
Ithas and Gideon, in speaking to Clyff Jr, note that the goblins are well aware of which barges are the most valuable, and which wagons will be easy-pickings. Both suspect that there is someone orchestrating the attacks.
We retired at this point until the next session.