Investigation at Oakhurst
If only we had gotten here sooner! The golden apple sold yesterday, and when the winner of the auction was announced, four black cloaked figures in masks attacked the buyer, stole the apple, then disappeared in a flash of smoke. A man we met named Derrick heard them yell, "For the pride of the Red Hand!" in Goblin, and the crowd attacked and killed the goblins in town selling the apple. No one saw where the figures went, but apparently the poor buyer carried symbols from both the Brindol and Dennovar academies of magic. According to Sparrow they've been buying the Golden Apple every year since the first, but even he was surprised to hear the schools were working together.

We met Derrick and another man, a musician named Jax, in the Old Boar Inn after getting into town at dawn. Jax told us all about the group of adventurers that Oakhurst sent to the goblin's hideout to try to smooth relations over. Talgen and Sharwyn Hucrele, the son and daughter of a rich merchant in town, a local ranger named Karakas, and a visiting paladin named Braford set off towards the Sunless Citadel yesterday, and should be back in a few days.

I can't help thinking about the woman who was killed. I just know we could have done something to stop it if we had been there!

*****

I spent the day working on the herbalism kit Avarthel gave me. I finished the antitoxin, and should manage to put the healing potion together tomorrow. Sparrow's been off studying with the local wizard, a gnome named Helda Knackle. She's helped him find the location of Razorfalls, and it shouldn't take us more than a day's ride with Daisy to get there. Sparrow's been working on crafting potion he needs for the vault, and insists we stay in town for a few days while he works on it.

Candy is much more familiar with the area, and she's been telling me stories about the Thornwaste. Oakhurst is on the end of the land before the Ashen Plains, said to be created by the raging Tiamat after being summoned hundreds of years ago. A huge coalition of humans, elves, dwarves, halfings, and orcs banded together to finally banish her, but the wasteland remains to this day. Candy says horrors of every kind roam the Thornwaste now, none worse than the spirit of a powerful sorcerer who once served Tiamat called the Ghostlord.

Jax was trading stories with Garon, the barkeep at the Old Boar Inn. Apparently it's named that after the half-orc companion of Reslin Kine. The four adventurers are apparently the first people to go to the Sunless Citadel in over a decade; before them, a funny guy named Belak, who carried around a pet frog under his arm, was asking about it ten or fifteen years ago. It's at the edge of the ravine by the Thornwaste, and if you climb down you'll find the old fortress. It's completely overrun with goblins now, and no one in their right mind would go near it.

There's hardly any trees around here, much less one that grows fruit like an apple tree. It doesn't feel like the land here would be fertile enough for that either. I wonder how the goblins grow the apples, and what they've been doing with the white one every year.

*****

I finished my healing potion today. Sparrow is still working on his potion and plans, so it looks like we're staying in town another night. Trinique hasn't picked up any leads on where the four assassins disappeared to. You'd think with that much of a crowd turned out for the sale, someone would have had to see something! It seems like most people closest to the buyer were out-of-town folks like us, here in Oakhurst to see the apple. Most of them cleared out after the attack.

Derrick's been trying to learn more about the Red Hand from a woman named Ala. She seemed edgy around Trinique, and I think she might be in a similar line of work. She was a good source of information, though, and told Derrick that the Red Hand haven't been heard of or seen in hundreds of years, but back then they were a band of necromancers you didn't want to meddle with.

Candy visited the local temple, and spoke to a woman named Dem Knackle, who works as the town priest. I wonder how she's related to Helda. Sisters? Mother and daughter? It's hard to tell age with gnomes. Rumor has it, according to Dem, the Sunless Citadel used to be a dragon cult worshiping Tiamat. They must have been the ones to summon her all those years ago. Their temple collapsed to the bottom of the ravine during the battle that banished her.

I haven't dreamed again since we got here, but I can't shake the sight of those tree monsters from my mind. They must be connected to the source of the golden and white apples somehow.

*****

I'm restless. There has to be something I can do, besides just sitting here in Oakhurst. I feel useless. Trinique's been trying to find more information about the Red Hand from her own sources, but the only new thing she's turned up is they were a band of goblins. They're scary enough with how dark and deep their hideouts go, but necromancer goblins? It's terrifying. But if the Red Hand is a band of goblins, why steal the apple at the festival with so many witnesses? And why steal in it the first place? Are there two tribes fighting over the source of the apples? Why?

Jax met the mayor of Oakhurst, a man named Verner Lang. He's starting to panic about the adventurers not returning yet, and worried about the goblins laying siege to the town as revenge. On an interesting note, his grandfather was apparently the first person to buy the Golden Apple a decade ago, and it healed his sick wife after she ate it. I can't imagine being so desperate that you'd put your faith in the words of goblins.

Candy heard word of cattle being killed on the outskirts of town in the middle of the night, with needle-like wounds dotting the bodies. Some said they've seen walking trees roaming at night. I bet if we camp on the outskirts of town we'd see those tree creatures again. I don't want to risk Daisy getting hurt, so I wonder if we can find something else to bait the creatures.

*****

Success! Derrick convinced a farm woman on the edge of town to lend us her cow, Bessie, for the night. She's skittish and clumsy, but gentle once she's comfortable with you. I stood watch with my lantern for a few hours, before switching places with Candy to get some sleep. A whole swarm of tree monsters showed up a few hours later, and we managed to catch one and destroy the rest, and we returned Bessie good as new. We brought the creature to Dem, who said it was a twig blight, created when magic pools into the woods. She thinks it may have grown from the seeds planted every year after the festival that disappear as a sapling. The goblins haven't been stealing them; they've been walking away on their own!

We visited the Hucrele's shop after that. After the fight with the twig blights this morning I realized I need a less destructive ranged attack than using my fire, so I purchased myself a camping tent and a sling with 20 bullets. We met Talgen and Sharwyn's mother, who is worried sick for her children. It's been four days, and they were supposed to be back by now. She offered us 250 kronas each if we can bring her children back in one piece, and 125 kronas if we can at least retrieve the signet ring they both wear, with knowledge of their fates.

Trinique, Jax, Candy, Derrick, and I are about to set off for the Sunless Citadel. I'm worried about what could have happened to the other people if they got caught in the crossfire of two warring bands of goblins, especially if some have magic. What will we find down in the ravine?
Session: Game Session 2: Oakhurst - Friday, Dec 28 2018 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Tags: Journal , Quinn