After finding yourselves in The Crossroads (by hook or by crook) you’ve come to find that the promise of easy adventuring fame is a bit more fleeting than you had originally hoped. While there are a number of employers hiring those of the adventuring ilk many of them are less than accommodating to those with little actual experience in their field of choice.
Finally, after a few weeks of searching a new post appears on the bulletin board outside the Sword and Board inn and boarding house (home of many a wayward adventurer passing through or stranded in the area indefinitely) offering pay for assistance with an archaeological project (and with “no experience necessary” clearly stated on the announcement).
Obviously, this is the perfect opportunity for someone such as yourself looking to build their adventuring resume and nothing could possibly go wrong.
There’s a saying in the realms that “All the nuts get sold at The Crossroads” and your initial experience with applying for the job listing you found outside the Sword and Board certainly reinforces the point. A motley collection of “colorful” fellows gathered in the public house for the initial winnowing of the applicants. The enterprise at hands was being organized by two men who you got the distinct feeling probably wouldn’t have been hanging out together if there wasn’t a task to be completed.
The smaller of the men, flirting with the far edge of middle age did the introductory speaking. A man who sadly would be described as “average” in regard to most any question one could think up. Showing the wear of a traveler's lifestyle in his salt and pepper hair and slightly worn clothing. He wore a common enough outfit, mostly in light colors to help endure the heat of a summer day on the plains.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Berellenoq, Major Torts and I will be performing a simple archaeological dig a few days travel from here. As you know there’s been an increase in the number of Orc attacks on travelers lately and I think we’d all agree that there’s safety in numbers. Major…”
The small man cedes the floor to his tightly wound compatriot. A tall man with short-cropped dark hair, a weak chin and a receding hairline. Even in the stifling summer heat he’s wearing his full combat attire, leather armor reinforced with chain mail. A plate mail breastplate with a worn military ornament on the chest. All of it carefully oiled and rubbed with black ink, the hilt of an engraved greatsword visible over his shoulder.
“We will not be discussing the destination or purpose of our effort with you today. Should you meet our criteria you will be told all you need to know.”
A few of the potential adventurers, clearly mistrustful, get up and leave. As he continues to speak, he continues to hemorrhage applicants at seemingly every turn.
“The pay for this mission will be 40 Pharaz (the gold pieces minted by the Kingdom of Thellerg), this will be payed with 10 up front and the rest upon our return to the Crossroads. Your transportation and meals will be provided for you. We do not anticipate violence, but we will remain prepared for it and you will be expected to fight if necessary…”
He continues on for a few minutes until, realizing that the five of you are the only ones left in the room, Berellenoq interrupts and takes the floor again.
“Well, it looks like you good folk are just the type of adventurous spirits we’re looking for. If I can get you all to sign a bit of paperwork we’ll leave at first light.”
As promised, you departed at dawn. Major Torts clearly didn’t feel the need to tell everyone that the transportation they would be providing would be in the back of a horsecart, but here you are. The summer sun of the plains beating down on you as the horses lumber onward.
Sometime around noon Berellenoq rifles through a chest in the front of the cart and pulls out a handful of hard tack rations, as he passes them back for the rest of you he tells you about the undertaking in more detail.
“You may have heard of the abandoned village of Ferrelton to the southeast. A couple hundred years ago the heir to the noble family that oversaw the village showed a talent for research in the arcane and an unfortunate obsession with the dead. As people in the village would fall ill he would have them brought to the keep, most of them never coming back out again. He developed an obsession for the local millner’s daughter and eventually had her brought to his keep, not long after that the peasants revolted and burned the keep to the ground. His keep was only a day or so’s ride from the edge of the Edhelgoroth and he would go there as part of his research, there’s some letters from the time asking other researchers questions about a gold idol he had come to possess. That’s what we’re after. Somewhere buried under what’s left of the keep is that idol.”
As the blazing sun of the afternoon starts to give way to dusk Major Torts pulls the cart to a stop in a small clearing in the sparse woods.
“We’ve got another day’s ride ahead of us, but we’ll camp here for the night. You, you and you,” He says picking seemingly at random, “you have guard duty for the night. First watch, second watch, third watch. No slacking off.”
He goes off to set up his tent. Throwing back a “Start a fire, there’s more hard tack for supper” with a chuckle over his armored shoulder as he goes.
The first watch passes quietly and it’s as Mouse has resigned himself to a night of unrelenting boredom in the second hour of his watch that he notices the scratching of some sort of animal beyond the edge of the light cast by the campfire. Something is nearby.
Attacked by a group of Kobolds with a wolf, a vicious battle broke out around the campfire. Mouse quickly dispatched the wolf and called to wake everyone as an unnatural fog closed in over most of the camp.
Siolas and Edgar quickly came to Mouse's aid in the fight with the Kobolds while your employers stumbled around in their tents trying to gather their equipment.
The Kobold shaman (being inventive, but not very bright) cast a Sleep spell which knocked Mouse out as well as one of the Kobold spearmen and Berellenoq.
While slicing (Siolas) and barbecuing (Edgar) most of your attackers Siolas was struck by arrows fired by the Kobold archers and collapsed, unconscious.
Major Torts (breastplate on and ludicrously oversized greatsword in hand) came charging out of the fog and after being frosted over by the Kobold Shaman (and pegged in the shoulder with an arrow) worked with Edgar to slaughter the remaining Kobolds. While Torts berated everyone Edgar and Berellenoq did what they could to patch up everyone's wounds.