There are plenty of injustices right here in Phandalin.” It is the 13th daybreak of Eleasis as Boirin Ashcloak exhorts his fellow adventurers, proposing they dispatch the Redbrand threat before leaving the area. The dwarf concludes some last-minute affairs before leading the party to the north edge of town where he feeds and collects his small pack of wolves. Andrina, the group’s newest comrade, inquires after the beasts’ history, which Boirin recounts proudly, though she is not altogether put at ease.
The party follows a circuitous path east to the base of Tresendar Manor which they know to be the hidden lair of the Redbrand mercenaries, thanks to Andrina’s talented subterfuge. The ruined manor stands atop a terraced hill, which they climb easily — all except for Rána who presently slips and face-plants. Fortunately, his friends are there to drag him the rest of the way up the hill.
The manor stands at the east edge of town on a low hillside amid woods and thickets, more a small castle than a house. The place is clearly ancient and long-abandoned. What was once a short tower lays strewn across an overgrown courtyard. The few walls remaining to the ground floor are scarcely standing, full of holes and weather-worn. The place is well on its way to being reclaimed by the surrounding nature.
After a short search encircling the foundation, the party discovers a narrow stair leading down to a cellar door. Nothing left to do but to venture forth, our heroes descend and enter Tresendar Manor wearing their red-cloak disguises.
Passing through the door, they emerge into a large cellar. Against the far wall there is a deep cistern set into the floor, pipes leading to the surface, ostensibly to collect rainwater. There are crates and barrels stacked in the corners which contain basic provisions. There are two doors — one to the northwest next to the cistern, the other immediately on the group’s right passing under the short stairs near the entrance.
Rána looks for a keg of ale amidst the provisions in the northwest corner while Rhogar rummages through barrels on the opposite site of the cistern, to the south. The dragonborn, uninterested in careful perusal, pushes one of the barrels over, which clatters noisily onto the flagstones…
Scuffle in the Cellar
Without hesitation, Andrina jumps into the cistern, instantly transforming into her merfolk form — a glittering tail replacing her humanoid legs! The adventurers have no time to voice their astonishment, however, for before the spray of Andrina’s splash can settle the northwest door bursts open, admitting three Redbrand ruffians into the cellar, catching the party by surprise.
To Rána’s dismay, he finds himself directly in the enemy’s path. As they enter, they each take a swipe at the unfortunate blue elf with their swords. He quickly succumbs to the onslaught, collapsing face-first into a puddle of ale on the floor.
Boirin and Rhogar make up the second line of defense. The first Redbrand is mauled by Boirin’s wolves, diverting the second to attack Rhogar. The third enters the room and is confronted by the spilled blood of his fellow. Terror sends him leaping over the cistern to escape the fray, his fingers desperately prying at the wall — it is a hidden door!
Rána lies on the floor, dying… His unconscious mind recalls the peace of his outlander exile and the friendship of woodland creatures, and he clings to life…
Boirin pursues, preventing the Redbrand’s escape. They trade blows, Boirin wielding warhammer, wolves, and sacred flame. To the dwarf’s increasing ire, the Redbrand focuses his violent attention on Fred (one of Boirin’s wolves, along with Fluffy and Fang).
Rhogar, opposite the cistern, sends the other Redbrand tumbling backward into the water. The dragonborn then leaps across the cistern to Boirin’s aid. He swings mightily with both swords, losing one to a barrel but dealing brutal damage with the other.
Rána’s mind stirs, recalling the orc attack on the trail… standing to his feet on the wagon, he raised a blue hand, striking all three foes with a magic bolt of force… Rána remembers with pride how cool he must have looked doing that, and he clings to life once more…
The dunked Redbrand thrashes in the water, opening his eyes to the least expected sight (and the last) of his entire life. A mermaid floats beneath him, her bright eyes flashing amid swaying, vibrant orange hair. He lets out a gurgled scream as she impales him on the business end of her trident.
The Redbrand’s blood suffuses the water above Andrina, the scene above distorting and churning as he thrashes in pain. With her free hand, the mermaid brandishes her rapier and finishes him off, the water beginning to still. Before swimming to the surface, she notices a water-tight satchel hanging from a rope near the bottom of the pool. She cuts the rope with her sword, slings the satchel over her shoulder, and bounds upward, breaking the surface of the water to the sound of snarling wolves, shouts, and the repartee of cold steel.
“Klarg will build a new throne from your bones, puny ones!” Rána recalls the decapitation of their bugbear foe… He bade Rhogar remove the monster’s head, then gladly collected the gruesome trophy, stuffing it in a bag… In spite of his dire state, Rána’s blue lips curl in a weak smile at the recollection of his happiest memory… His will to live is secure…
The remaining ruffian fends off Fred the wolf with his sword, earning him another vicious curse from Boirin. Andrina, clinging to the raised ledge of the cistern levels a terrible gaze at their foe and begins to whisper… Her whispers reverberate supernaturally, echoing off the cellar walls. Her dissonant whispers fill the mind of the Redbrand, who falls to his knees clutching his head, and soon keels over from the psychic damage of Andrina’s spell.
The Cellar Falls Silent
Andrina’s dissonant whispers fade away and a quiet stillness descends on the cellar.
Boirin kneels next to their fallen elf. The cleric channels his divine magic to heal the sorcerer, and soon Rána sits up, rubbing his head.
Gnerx emerges from where he was hiding on the stairs, ashamed not to have been of any help. Eager to make up for his lack of utility, he boldly asks the party to arm him. Andrina, harboring an untempered disgust for the goblin, merely scoffs at the suggestion. Finally, Rána, having no need of the mundane equivalent now that he has Phantom Pane, gifts Gnerx his spare dagger, which the latter accepts with unabashed glee.
Rána, weary from his near-death experience, goes to catch his breath from a seat on the stairs. Rhogar joins him, hanging his scaly head. Quietly, he apologizes to the elf for his imprudence which led to Rána’s near-fatality. Rána graciously accepts, and the dragonborn swears to fulfill one favor of the other’s choosing at any time in the future.
Andrina opens her newfound satchel, investigating its contents. Inside, she finds a potion of healing, a potion of invisibility, 50 gold pieces, and a clean set of travel clothing. The party divides the gold. Rána gladly replaces his tattered and bloody clothes, then goes to the northwest door to investigate where the Redbrands came from.
Rána finds a small, now-vacant barracks. It appears to be a storeroom pressed into service as living quarters. Two double bunks stand against the wall near the door, while barrels and crates fill the southern half of the chamber. A quick search reveals the three ruffians’ belt pouches, their contents totaling 28 silver pieces, 12 gold pieces, 15 electrum pieces, and two garnet gemstones. The coins are divided amongst the party, but Rána keeps the garnets.
Boirin and Rhogar investigate the secret door while Andrina transforms back into her humanoid form. When they pry it open, a cold draft issues from a dark passage leading around a blind corner into a large cavern, carrying with it the faint scent of decaying flesh. They decide to explore other options before charging ahead.
Rána rejoins them and together they open the north door, which opens onto another passage. Thick dust covers the flagstones of this somber hallway. The walls are decorated with faux columns every ten feet, and the double doors at the west end of the hall are sheathed in copper plate, now green with age. A relief carving of a mournful angel graces the doors.
The party decides to proceed. Rána leads the way, followed closely by Gnerx. When the elf crosses halfway through the tunnel, suddenly the floor gives way! Rána reaches out and catches the far end of the pit, but Gnerx is not so lucky. The goblin plummets twenty feet down in a cloud of dust, landing amid loose stone tiles and breakaway timbers. It is clear that Gnerx is mortally wounded.
The rest of the party manages to cross the chasm, either by leaps or along ledges, and they haul Gnerx’s limp form up from the pit by a rope. They discuss for a moment, reflecting on their relatively small store of healing potion, and seeing no immediate benefit to expending their cleric’s healing magic. Reluctantly, Boirin lays his small hands on the hideous creature and casts his cantrip spare the dying, bitterly uttering, “Stay with us, rat-fiend.”
Gnerx’s condition does not improve, but it does not worsen, either; he is stable, but remains unconscious. Seeing no need to do more for him at the moment, Rána hoists him up and dons the straps of Gnerx’s goblin-bjorn, wearing the limp little creature like a backpack.
The green copper doors creak open, admitting the party to the Tresendar Crypts. Three large stone sarcophagi stand within this dusty crypt, and propped up next to each sarcophagus is a human skeleton clad in bits of rusty mail. False columns along the walls are carved in the image of spreading oak trees. The double doors in the southeast corner are sheathed in tarnished copper plate.
The stone lid of each sarcophagus is carved to depict the person entombed within — two human males and one human female, all of noble bearing — presumably the late Tresendar family, after whom the manor is named.
Rána slides the lid off one of the sarcophagi. Inside, he finds moldering bones, scraps of cloth, and a platinum signet ring. Boirin, following suit, opens another, finding much the same — bones, cloth, and a signet ring. Rhogar approaches the final sarcophagus, rubs his clawed hands together, and carefully removes the lid… The dragonborn winces, bracing himself for some unseen misfortune. Instead, he finds, like the others, bones, cloth, and a signet ring; Rhogar lets out a sigh of relief.
There are two doors on the north end of the crypt, one on the north wall, the other on the east. Before continuing on, Rána approaches one of the propped-up skeletons, his face inches away from its hollow eyes and toothy grin. His arcane knowledge warns him that there is something not quite right about these bones…
The party is uninterested in attracting any more reinforcements, so together they slide two of the sarcophagi against the north wall, barring both doors. The adventurers discuss at length what to do about the skeletons, finally agreeing on a simultaneous attack. They assume their positions and await the signal.
As soon as they attack, the skeletons animate! They come to life, wielding rusty swords in bony hands. There is a brutal melee, bones clattering to the floor as the party attempts to bludgeon them to pieces, but not before Andrina is cut down by the skeleton in front of her.
Boirin channels divinity, casting turn undead. At once, the skeletons turn and flee through the only remaining door — the crypt’s entrance. One after the other, they fall into a clattering heap of bones at the bottom of the pit that Rána had triggered, bringing them to a sudden end.
Rána, not far-removed from his own dire condition, kneels at Andrina’s side and retrieves the healing potion from her satchel, administering it to her at once. She revives presently.
The party surveys their dismal surroundings and reflects upon their difficulties thus far. Suddenly, a crypt seems a fitting place to make camp and take a breather.