[28 Tarsakh 1372]
In the common room of the Sign of the Forgehammer, Mellia suddenly appears from out of nowhere. The group (sans Ellywick, who has been seen gallivanting around Mirabar with Protius the Potion Purveyor) seem impressed, and Mellia explains she has learned the spell for invisibility. Nakor fills the group in on his plan to follow a diamond-laden caravan from the mines of Mirabar along the Blackford Road west toward Luskan, in the hopes that the Scourge of Blackford Road (a bandit with ties to Grim) will attack it, and can be captured. The other members of the group agree with the idea, and everyone leaves the inn intending to take care of some last-minute errands.
However, once they step out the door, they are accosted by a skinny, balding man with a pot belly. He shakes a finger at Markus and sneers that he plans to take the adventurer up on his (actually Nakor, disguised as Markus') offer the previous evening to duel. But instead of taking part himself, the man presents his "brother", a muscle-bound brawler named Korog. Markus tries to talk his way out of the fight, but Korog doesn't hesitate and starts pummelling the foppish swordsman with powerful punches, elbow jabs, and two-handed slams. Taken aback and bleeding from his nose, Markus pulls out his sword and attacks the unarmed man, much to the dismay of the gathering crowd. While Nakor places a bet with Korog's handler, Mellia has finally had enough and incapacitates the brawler with a well-aimed spell, Slumber of the Innocent. Markus and Nakor exchange words, but nothing is settled.
Markus storms off and heads for the planned rendezvous point at the west gate. Fargrim collects the special chain and cuff attachment for his greataxe, and stops in at the Shrine of Tymora to speak with Janith. Luck is in the barbarian's favor, as Janith has heard of a place "where the mountains touch the sky." She tells Fargrim of Startop Mountain, a long-dormant volcano in the Evermoors. Meanwhile, Nakor sells the gold bracelet he found in the bandit cavern. Most importantly, Cain tells Mellia about the mysterious visions he, Nakor, and Fargrim have been having in past months, including their origins in a curse by a priest of the supposedly dead god Myrkul. He adds that the three have a strange sense that the terrible events of their dreams will originate somewhere to the southeast. When he adds the fact that one of the images in the vision was of a priest wearing a silver circlet with bony projections, Mellia grows tremendously excited--has she finally unearthed a clue about the mysterious Crown of Horns? Mellia is almost giddy at the news, so much so that the others find it mildly unnerving when everyone (including the still distrusted Trigonnis) assembles at the west gate. Fargrim shares the information he gained about Startop Mountain, and Mellia seems very intrigued. However, she's willing to help the group out with their current quest to capture the Scourge of Blackford Road.
Outside Mirabar, the group waits a short time and then spots the caravan they hope will be bait for a trap. They follow it west and then camp when it stops for the evening.
[29 Tarsakh 1372]
The caravan continues heading west, as does the group, but no attack occurs.
[30 Tarsakh 1372]
Another day of fruitless travelling leaves the group debating whether they made a mistake. There is some talk of turning back and trying to gain an audience with Lord Feldspar during the gala he was throwing, but the group realizes they won't make it back to Mirabar in time. Instead, they decide to push on.
[Greengrass Holiday, 1372]
The caravan slows down and then stops as it's met by a contingent of what look to be Luskanite soldiers. Heated words are exchanged between the Luskanites and the caravan guards, but, alerted by false birdsong, Nakor suspects it's a trap. He alerts the others, and they're ready when the Scourge of Blackford Road launches her ambush! As the Scourge (a beautiful young woman wearing expensive clothes) and her band of highwaymen spring forward out of a nearby copse of trees intending to raid the center wagon while the caravan guards are distracted by the "Luskanites", the adventurers launch a counter-attack which catches the bandits by surprise. The Scourge orders a hasty retreat, but Markus catches up
to her. She stabs him with a jewelled dagger before he knocks it away, and seconds later Fargrim lays her low with a vicious attack from his axe. Her fellow bandits reluctantly try to carry out Grim's orders to ensure she is not captured alive, but quick teamwork between Mellia and Markus stop their plan in
its tracks. Cain calls upon his divinely-granted powers to stop the Scourge from bleeding to death. After receiving the gratitude of the captain of the caravan guards, the group heads back east with a major prize.
That night, the group talks about what to do with the unconscious Scourge. Fargrim suggests perhaps killing her, but Mellia is strongly opposed to the notion. The conversation is unresolved as everyone tries to sleep. But during Markus' and Cain's shift on the watch, a strange, unearthly fog suddenly springs up, seemingly from the ground itself. Lurching, moaning shapes can be seen in the fog, heading straight towards the camp.
On this Greengrass Night, the dead walk! But will the adventurers survive to walk away?
Director's Commentary (Sep 3, 2013)
It was great fun starting the session with Markus getting punched in the face by the brawler (Nakor's revenge for being left out in the cold a couple of sessions back). I think it's good to occasionally have combat where everyone knows that death isn't a real risk, but the fun part is to see how the PC handles it. Markus responding with attacking the unarmed man with his sword would probably have gotten the crowd to intervene if Mellia hadn't cast a handy Sleep spell. Speaking of Mellia and spells, this is the first session where she gets Invisibility, which soon becomes her go-to spell when threatened. She's no coward, but she's also made it clear that she doesn't plan on fighting to her last breath if escape is an option.
It becomes obvious in this session that Mellia has a connection to something called the "Crown of Horns" and that the presence of something that could be the Horn in the others' dreams gives them a common interest. This might seem like sheer coincidence for the sake of the plot (and sometimes a DM has no choice but to rely on coincidence!), but there's actually a good reason for the connection in this instance: Mellia was directed to join the group by a mysterious figure that is responsible for her motivation to find the Crown of Horns to begin with. The figures auguries have revealed that her best chance of finding the Crown is with their aid. I'll discuss this point more in an upcoming session when Mellia reveals to the other PCs why she's after the Crown.
The PCs had one of their first clear successes in the campaign by capturing the Scourge of Blackford Road. There was a point at which she almost escaped, and a point at which she was almost murdered by her own men, but in each instance the PCs acted quickly and decisively to capture her and keep her alive. We'll see much more of the Scourge in the next couple of sessions, and although I came up with her personality on the fly, I really enjoyed role-playing her. What turns a noblewoman into a bandit? She would have made an interesting antagonist or reluctant ally if things had happened differently.