The sun is approaching its zenith, on the 6th day since departing Shadowdale. The party can now see what they hope must be Dagger Falls, a few miles ahead of them.
As they cross the river they come upon some buildings that are located on the eastern side of the relative safety the wooden walls provide. They estimate there are roughly 20 to 30 buildings in total.
The party approach a sign that proclaims to be the River Gate of Dagger Falls. Stood at attention by the gate are five guards in chainmail armour, clutching halberds with a long sword sheathed at their hip.
Condar notices that the guards are wearing the livery of Zhentil Keep. (A white skull on a dark purple sunburst.)Which he knows is an evil human city to the East where the citizens worship Cyric, the Mad God.
He quietly whispers this information to the others and informs them that they must all be extremely wary from now on as many residents will be spies for The Zhentarim and will sell them out for as little as a copper piece.
The party are stopped by the guards and are asked to state their names and business in Dagger Falls. After they state their names they inform the guards that they are here as they are weary from the road and want nothing more than to rest and eat. Ultyr asks the guards if they know of anyone called Kessla as she is an old acquaintance of hers and would like to visit her if she still stays in Dagger Falls.
“You are to keep you’re weapons sheathed at all times. Unlawful exposure of a weapon will result in arrest.” Explains the guard. He continues, “The Teshford Arms to the south of the river is the only inn open for business, I tell you this because if you are found sleeping on the streets you will be arrested. In fact any conflict of any sort and you will be arrested in the name of , tried and executed in less than 24 hours.”
The guards let you pass and tell you to head North through the town until you come upon the Forest Gate, exit there and follow the path and you will reach The Red Rock Tavern.
As the party are walking through Dagger Falls they see it looks like a small, walled town of stone buildings with steep slate roofs. They have heard that steep roofs are necessary as snow loads can be fearsome during winter. Its streets are cobbled in some places and dirt or corduroy elsewhere.
The size of the town leads the Shadowdale Four to believe the population cannot be more than 1000 in total.
The citizens all have wary looks upon their faces. They also seem fearful and do not waste their time with small talk when buying their goods. It is as though they want to get off the street and back in doors before attracting the attention of the guards.
As they head further onward, they exit the gate the guards mention and follow the path leading North. It is not long before they come upon what they think must be the tavern. It is a ramshackle building, bigger than the surrounding houses. It is made entirely of poorly maintained wood, giving it the impression of a dismal, dull, drab, dreary dive.
A sign has fallen from its hangings but it is to worn to read. They are confident that this must be the place the guards described, yet they are beginning to wonder what sort of person Adoven was to have ever been here.
They push open the door and are immediately struck by how busy it is given the time of day.
There are maybe 15 people currently inside, mostly males but there are a few women. They all seem to be mingling freely with each other as though each one is a personal friend of the other.
The tavern itself is as they first thought, tables are broken, chairs are shoddily repaired, the tankards all look dull and dirty and they highly doubt any wine glasses are served here.
As the door slams closed behind the party, the atmosphere in the room instantly changes. The four all notice more than a few stares being directed their way and the noise has dramatically decreased. They get the impression that their party is the new hot topic of conversation but are not invited to partake in it.
They continue onwards towards the bar and the three male party members are suddenly taken aback when they glimpse the half-elf behind the bar.
Stood washing empty tankards and bowls is the most beautiful woman they have seen in many a year. She has the features of both her human and elven parents. She has striking blonde hair which as it falls past her shoulders begins to twist into slight, wispy curls. She stands 5ft 9inches and is of a slender build. She is currently wearing a red apron over a thin white chemise and (A loose shirt which covers the body from the neck to the thigh or mid-calf. It may have long or short sleeves.) a pair of black hose which are tucked into her black boots.
After the party mentions Adoven a flash of anger quickly crosses her face. She calls over a human male who is collecting tankards and tells him to mind the bar while she has to deal with some unfinished business.
“If you have word of Adoven then follow me through to the back room” she instructs.
The party all follow her through and are barely through the doorway when she turns on them,
“What do you know of that foul, abhorrent, no good waste of a man?” she spits venomously.
The party inform her that Adoven is dead and they see her gasp and begin to shake. She looks heartbroken and sobs quietly for a few minutes. When she composes herself she asks the party a few questions. She wants to know how they know that Adoven is dead, why they have come to her and what is their relationship with Adoven.
Ultyr Ravenwing takes the lead and tells Kessla everything that has come to pass since finding Adoven dead. She asks Kessla what she knows of Border Forest and does she know why Adoven would require their help.
She informs the party that all wildlife in and around Dagger Falls started vanishing two weeks ago. Any cattle, horses, poultry, cats, dog’s even rabbits that were not fenced in, locked up or tied up bolted to only the Gods know where! Those that couldn’t escape began to act crazy. They were in hysterics, attacking anyone that came near. In the end they had to be killed with bows just to stop them injuring themselves or anyone else.
“The problem we have now” she says “is that we are running severely low on any form of meat. That in turn has pushed the price up of everything else, as you have seen.”
“About ten days ago a party of four brave adventurers decided to head into Border Forest to see if that was where the animals ran to. “
“A week later they still hadn’t returned” she explains grimly. “Three days ago now, a farmer was out in the woods looking for his lost cattle himself when he saw it…..”
She pauses for a few seconds before continuing.
“Roughly three days walk in a North Westerly direction into the forest at the top of one of the tallest trees was what near frightened the poor farmer to death. Hanging from one of the highest branches on the tree was the body of one of the four adventurers. The rogue I believe” she says.
“Anyway the man climbed up the tree to cut him down. It was when he was up there he came to the conclusion that the rogue did this to himself.”
The party ask how he came to this conclusion.
“Because” she explains, "just next to where the rope was tied to the branch, etched into the tree where the words,”
I cannot outrun them. They have already killed the others. I won’t let them get me.
“The scary part of it is,” she whispers “is that the only thing the man had on him except his clothes was his sword. And that is too big a blade for him to have used it to scribe the message into the bark.”
“He was found with tree bark under his fingernails.”
Upon stating this Kessla gives the party the sword that was found on the dead rogue.
“Although the last wielder died he managed to survive longer than his unfortunate fellows and maybe this is the reason why”, she says.
She wishes the party luck and then heads back into the taproom of the tavern.
Ultyr inspects the sword and it looks of very good quality, it is a duller colour than ones she has wielded before but this feels more substantial in her grasp.