After returning from the north, the party are preparing for their investigation into the strange rat plague infesting Winterhaven when the adventurers learn that Marigold’s elven bartender, Vilnar, hasn’t been seen since the previous night.
Not knowing anything, the innkeeper directs the party towards Guard Captain Elnór Agerond who informs the adventurers that the girl is the latest in a string of elves who have gone missing throughout town, before he is persuaded by the party to allow them to (unofficially) investigate any possible connections between the plague and the missing elves.
Later, at the Shrine of the Raven Queen, the party, with the help of a member of the Hall of Scholars, is led to believe that the undead creature Orion ran into is something called a Bruxa, a vengeful monster with some control of the elements. Certain details lead Sam to believe that the Bruxa is the “Lady of the Woods” and the Vicar informs the party that he thinks the creature is responsible for several murders around town.
Afterwards, further complicating matters, the party follow Marigold’s advice on the goblin note, traveling to Falkorn’s shop, where they learn that the goblins were ordered to bring any elves they found to their “king”.
Wondering if the goblins and missing elves are connected, the party shelve the issue, before heading to Winterhaven’s tenements. Dodging guards, the party break into and search the plague house, finding the dead body of a thief, as well as, evidence that a strange creature was nesting inside.
Descending to the basement, the adventurers exterminate several dozen rats, before discovering the corpse of the tenement’s former owner and the man’s crazed ravings about a strange grotto.
The Rat’s Tale: Part II: Thieves and Killers
Their search seemingly in vain, the party attempt to track the strange creature that was recently squatting in the plague house.
Continuing to avoid the guards, Sam and the party look for a trail, before the minotaur notices strange lights coming from a nearby alley.
Peering in, Sam finds a cloaked stranger, whom Orion is then urged to speak with.
The stranger, revealed to be a drow, is initially suspicious of the party, but relaxes when he realizes the group isn’t with the guards. Orion attempts to learn what the man is doing alone in the alley, but the drow is not forthcoming, before Casper notices that the man is wounded.
Refusing Orion’s offers to heal the man, the drow soon after passes out from the pain. Quickly healed by the druid, the stranger is grateful for the help and agrees, when Orion asks, to tell his story once they’re all somewhere private.
Sam leaves to speak with and distract a pair of guards, while Casper and Orion help usher the stranger towards the plague house where, while waiting for Sam, the group are silently approached by a strange minotaur who regards them coldly.
Leaving before Sam returns, the minotaur melts back into the shadows without a word, before Orion notices that Casper’s nose is bleeding.
Sam rejoins the group and ushers the party inside, before the drow is pressured to fulfill his promise.
The stranger reveals that he originally came from a distant city where he was the co-founder of a local thieves’ guild. For a time, he and his associates were successful, until recently when he betrayed those he worked with. For his betrayal, everyone the drow knew and loved were either killed or imprisoned, including the man’s mentor, and he was forced to flee his home. Pursued north, the thief was wounded, before finding his way to Winterhaven, where, like the party, he has been trapped for the past week.
Their questions answered and their leads cold, the party plan to return to the Marigold Inn. Before they leave, the stranger offers to join them as thanks for aiding him, and although reluctant, the party allow it after the drow promises not to rob them.
Returning to the inn, the party find it uncharacteristically dark and closed. Inside, they are greeted with silence, until an unfamiliar voice calls out to them. Stepping out of the shadows, a human stranger, introduces himself as Dratel, before ordering the group by name (except the stranger) to throw down their weapons.
The party refuse, demanding to know where Marigold is, but after the innkeeper is brought out by a masked thug, the adventurers relent, obeying Dratel’s commands.
Smug, Dratel informs the party that he became aware of them after Vilnar came asking around about the strange blue crystals. After interrogating the elf, the man came to Marigold who informed him of the party’s activities over the past few days.
Curious why the party was not only interested in the crystals, but also looking into so many issues plaguing Winterhaven, Dratel became disappointed when he learned the group was just trying to help the locals. His questions answered, the crime lord stepped back into the shadows, before ordering his men, having moved into position around the party, to kill the adventurers.
A fight breaks out as crossbow bolts fly at the party. The adventurers jump into action, Orion splitting off to free Marigold while the others battle Dratel and his masked thugs. The party is initially beaten back, but quickly recover as Casper engages Dratel in a magical duel. Seeing the battle turning against him, the crime boss shifts into a grotesque wererat form and charges at the party, weathering their blows.
Unrelenting, the party fight on, slaying thug after thug, before Dratel turns to flee. Sticking out his hand, Casper fires a devastating arcane bolt which bludgeons the wererat into unconsciousness, ending the battle.
Recovering, Orion frees Marigold who leaves to inform the guards while the adventures wake and interrogate Dratel. The cowardly criminal fearfully reveals that he was approached by a cult (pointing to his thugs) to distribute the strange crystals in exchange for delivering elves, like Vilnar, to a ford north of Winterhaven. At the ford, he explains, he would leave the elves and collect the crystals from a bucket floating in the water.
Unable to provide the party with any more information, Sam executes Dratel just before Marigold returns with a company of guards, led by Captain Agerond. After explaining the situation to the captain, Elnor thanks the party, before the guard turns his attention to the drow stranger. Thinking fast, Casper claims the drow is a friend of theirs, before the thief introduces himself as Temar Er’Lessin.
Later, Elnór agrees to lead the party to the Bluestream Ford that Dratel described when they are able and Orion removes the mask on one of Dratel’s dead cultist thugs, finding the man with a ritualistic indent in his skull…