“What have you done?” cried Harbin Wester, the town master of Phandalin, “I’m of a mind to have you all in shackles and thrown in the dungeon. Otherwise, there will be retribution.”
“When we’re done, there’ll be no Red Brands left to dole out this retribution,” quipped Leshanna.
“We’re on our way to Tresander Manor now,” said Helja, “If we fail, they’ll be no need to throw us in the dungeon as we’ll be prisoners of the Red Brands or worse – though I would like to see you and your constables try.”
“Alright, alright,” mumbled the town master, taken aback by the gleam in Helja’s eyes, “but, if I hear that you did not actually go to the manor, then I will see you in shackles. Constables!” And, with that, he was off.
It was then that Helja and Leshanna noticed that Milo was nowhere to be found. “Just like a rogue to run off when the constablery gets involved,” they thought.
As they started to head down the road to Tresander Manor, a voice cried out, “Wait!”
It was then that Helja and Leshanna met Irni Iphelkiir, a High Elf Wizard who was drawn to Phandalin by visions of a defiled shrine of Oghma in an ancient ruin now called Cragmaw Castle. Irni was on her way to Tresander Manor herself to seek out a goblin servant who was rumored to know the location of Cragmaw Castle when she came across the showdown in front of The Sleeping Giant tap house. She decided to lend a hand by casting a couple of well timed spells from the shadows.
Once Helja and Leshanna decided that they could trust Irni (and Irni decided that she could trust them), they headed off to the manor house together. Even though the sun was setting and the day was drawing to an end, they were able to find and follow a well worn path leading to a stone staircase that took them down to the cellar.
As can be expected in endeavors of this nature, high adventure, fraught with conflict and close calls soon ensued. Red Brands were slain or driven off. A Nothic was found lurking in an underground crevasse that Irni divined was giving off an aura of necromantic magic. The party escaped what was sure to be a bloody fight by directing the fiend back to a couple of bandits that they had recently dispatched to sate its hunger.
While eavesdropping outside what seemed to be the hideout’s common quarters, the adventurers heard two or three rather large sounding bugbears harassing one rather small sounding goblin. It stood to reason that this was the goblin that Irni sought. As they continued to stand outside the door, they overheard the bugbears and the goblin talking about Cragmaw Castle. Though they weren’t able to discern the exact location, they did hear that it was located in the forest north of Phandalin.
The party’s major discovery was that Iarno Albrek, the mage Sildar Hallwinter had been seeking, was actually none other than Glasstaff, the mysterious leader of the Red Brand’s. They found a note in his recently abandoned quarters – very recently by the look of things – that indicated that he in turn worked for the even more mysterious Black Spider. They gave chase to Iarno, but he had gotten too much of a head start.
Helga, Irni and Leshanna emerged from beneath Tresander Manor at dawn, a little worse for wear but happy with the knowledge that they had severely curtailed, if not ended, the Red Brand threat. As they turned towards town and hopefully a few hours of well deserved rest at the Stonehill Inn, they heard a shrill voice call after them, “Wait! Wait! It is I, Droop, your faithful and humble servant…"