Vanquishing a young white dragon is no small feat to the peoples of the Nentir Vale and it earned the party much respect in Fallcrest. It wasn’t a long rest ere the group heard murmurs of strange happenings in Winterhaven, a small fort town five days journey northwest along the old King’s Road, named after the Nerath King many years ago when this region was under the auspices of that long withdrawn empire. Ready to go, but being ever mindful of the chances to fill their pockets with the money of lords and merchants, the party found a provisioner named Old Man Sandercot who was sending two wagons to Winterhaven at the next rising sun. Despite his own son Marken undertaking the risky journey, the miserly merchant drove a hard bargain. A compromise was reached, a plan was made, and the adventurers rested that evening in the Silver Unicorn.
The first four days of the journey were uneventful. Marken was pleasant company and quite different in personality from his father. On the morning of the fifth day, seeing a suspicious placement of rocks on the road ahead of them, Bhintel scouted ahead, flanking the road and moving as quietly as a mouse. He spied kobold brigands lying in wait behind the rocks. Having dealt with their kind before (and in larger numbers than this) the adventurers attacked. In the end, only one of the kobold’s numbers was not felled, a crafty kobold who set fire to Borrus twice with incendiary ammunition launched from a sling. That one escaped into the woods south of the road, destination unknown.
At the gates of Winterhaven, Marken happily paid the heroes their wage and parted with a healing potion as well, being fully aware that he and his dwarven ally would not have retained their lives (to say nothing of the cargo) against the savage kobolds. The heroes made no delay finding the local pub, a thatch-roofed long house called Wrafton’s Inn. Salvana Wrafton greeted them heartily and served them both beer and conversation. The party met and conversed with others at the pub, including a grizzled but friendly old farmer named Eilan, a garishly dressed and long-bearded sage named Valthrun, and a pretty but taciturn elven ranger named Ninaran. Later on, the lord of Winterhaven stopped by, a handsome human with a beard of blonde and grey named Padraig. Padraig seemed as approachable as anyone else in Wrafton’s. Indeed, Padraig had noticed the newly arrived heroes immediately and though he gave no indication, he saw in them a chance to rid his lands of the kobolds that plagued the outlying farms and the King’s Road.
By evening’s end, the heroes had learned much. From Salvana and Eilan, they learned of a treasure hunter named Douven Staul who came to these parts with a halfling apprentice looking for a dragon’s tomb. Douven stayed in town for some days, made use of Valthrun’s library for research, and purchased supplies from Bairwin’s Shoppe before departing by horse-drawn wagon for the suspected tomb site. It was Eilan who directed Douven to the site and while Eilan suspected it was nothing more than an old trash heap, Douven seemed convinced that it was the burial site he was looking for. Eilan drew a map to the site for the heroes, asking in return only for word of Douven’s fate, for he worried greatly that it was he who had steered Douven toward trouble.
From Lord Padraig, the heroes learned of the kobold threat and how it had been growing like a cancer in recent years. Lord Padraig vented his frustrations, complaining that for some time he had attempted to raise a militia of townsfolk to deal with it, but that they weren’t interested. Though he spoke circuitously, Padraig knew from the start that he wanted to hire these adventurers. Much to his delight, the adventurers were eagerly looking for just this sort of employment. Padraig told them of a kobold lair behind a waterfall in the Cloak Wood south of town, and marked its location on Eilan’s map. In addition to payment from the Winterhaven treasury, Padraig said that the adventurers could keep any stolen property they found in the kobold lair. His hushed tone at this proclamation suggested he did not want this to be common knowledge, but he did not seem personally bothered by it since the townsfolk were so unwilling to do anything about the problem themselves.
The heroes also learned of an old abandoned castle keep north of town. Valthrun knew something of its history: that it had been built in the days of the old Nerath empire, that it had fallen when the Bloodspear Orcs wreaked havoc throughout the Nentir Vale some five score years ago, and that it was now likely home to goblins of one sort or another. This last fact he described as second-hand knowledge from an elven flower peddler named Delphina Moongem, who could be found in the town square on market days. He advised the heroes to seek her out if they wished to learn more.
With full bellies and heads swimming with spirituous beverages and adventurous possibilities, the heroes retired to their rented rooms for the evening.