After successfully retrieving the Crown of Tarrakas from the Temple of Grumbar, the adventuring party, now known as the Valiant Crowned, has made their way to the Lonely Goat Inn. The Inn is a small complex consisting of the large inn itself, which has a well-stocked bar and dining area on the first floor and rooms of various comfort levels on the two top floors, a stable and stablemaster’s house/ supply shop, a central green with a gazebo and a well, and a small farm a short ways off with a field for fresh vegetables and grapevines, a pen and barn for livestock, and a rather large, private farmhouse.
The Lonely Goat Inn takes its name from a mounted goat head above the central fireplace in the tavern part of the Inn. No one agrees where the goat head came from or why it is mounted above the fireplace.
A Motley Crew
Upon arriving at the Lonely Goat Inn, Quincy (a bugbear sorcerer) took the opportunity to magically disguise himself as a burly, muscular half-orc so that he could fit in a little better without drawing too much attention to himself. This had the unintended consequence of gaining the attention of a fierce looking, elderly orc in the tavern, who immediately marked Quincy as a fellow warrior.
Hoping to use this chance to gain a squire, Aryn inquired of a beautiful young halfling woman if the farm down the road might be home to a lady in waiting or some such person. Unbeknownst at the time, she was speaking to Rose Goodlight, who lived and worked at that farm. Rose, demonstrating her tough personality, took offense to the fancy looking stranger’s implication that she was a lady in waiting. Aryn, however, had her sights set on acquiring a servant. It would take some persuading (and a good deal of fine wine) for Rose to finally lighten up.
Glen, the kobold cleric, surveyed the common room of the Inn and spotted a paladin of Bahamut, Kristoff Anderson, who looked like he had suffered a head wound as his head was heavily bandaged. Glen approached him at his spot on a couch by the large central fireplace and offered his healing services in exchange for a small fee. Something about the man seemed off, but he was willing to trade a few expensive looking rings in return for a healing spell. It wasn’t Glen’s finest heal, but it did manage to take a bit of the man’s stink away for a little while at least.
Around this time, Glen and Aryn decided to spend the night in the utmost comfort the Inn had to offer. They rented two of the most expensive suites on the third floor with private wash tubs and feather beds. Cupcake was sent upstairs to put Glen’s luggage away and draw a bath.
In the meantime, Quincy was busy making friends with the tough looking orc. Glad to finally meet another with orc blood in his veins so far from the Greatspire Mountains, the orc, Lurog of Clan Blacktooth, challenged him to a contest of honor — an arm wrestling match.
Immediately drawn to the prospect of a contest where he might win some coin, Glen trotted over and made a bet with the orc. If they would both agree to arm wrestle blindfolded, he would wager an ale on the winner. Lurog agreed, and as soon as his eyes were covered, Glen cheated and cast a guidance spell on Quincy to boost his chances of winning the contest of strength. It was a close match, but in the end, Lurog victoriously slammed Quincy’s hand down onto the table and proudly declared himself the champion. Glen begrudgingly held his end of the bargain and paid for a round of ales at the bar.
Harold Vernmeyer’s Magnificent Elixir
As they drank together, an old man burst in through the front door carrying an unconscious woman in his arms and pleading for help. The adventurers helped him carry her to the couch near the fire.
The old man, Harold Vernmeyer claimed that his daughter, Grace Vernmeyer, had suddenly fallen ill and stopped breathing on their carriage ride to the Inn. As if suddenly remembering something, he reached into a leather satchel and produced a small vial of blue liquid. Hoping as if beyond hope that this concoction of his would help, he gently tilted the girl’s head back and poured a trickle of the serum into her mouth. Miraculously, she stirred back to consciousness. Harold cried with joy and immediately proclaimed the wonder of his latest elixir — a potion so powerful it could even bring someone back from the brink.
Suspicious of all this, Glen, Quincy, and Aryn examined the potion and determined that it was likely a scam of some sort. Meanwhile, Harold was eager to share his magnificent elixir to any of the patrons of the Inn for the mere price of 20 gold pieces. Sensing an opportunity, Glen and Harold arranged a meeting later after dinner in one of the Inn’s private rooms.
After things had settled down, Aryn turned her attention back to Rose. She bought a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses and sat down to talk with her. She apologized for any insult and tried to talk to Rose about her life at Goodlight farm, and of how fantastic a life of travel and adventure would be. After a few drinks, Rose became more friendly and seemed to be interested in Aryn’s tales about life as an adventurer. It seemed like there was one thing still bothering her though, something she was holding back.
The Fate of the Valiant Chosen
The bartender and proprietor of the Lonely Goat Inn, Goren Balenonn, took a particular interest in these adventurers. When he asked who they were, Glen, Aryn, and Quincy told him that they were a subsidiary of the Valiant Chosen known as the Valiant Crowned. Goren had known several of the members of the Valiant Chosen, as he had served them many times when they visited the Inn on their way to some adventure or another. He was extremely shocked and saddened when the group told him that the other members of the Valiant Chosen had all been killed defending a small village in the Helmcliff Hills from wolves.
A Secret Revealed
While ordering another drink from the bar, Aryn was surprised to meet an elf who claimed to recognize her as a member of House Limlugeth. He claimed to be a hunter from around these parts, but also claimed a knowledge of Aryn’s home town of Westwatch. Suspicious of this elf, Aryn intimidated him into coming up to her room for a private chat. She got him to admit that he was familiar with her family because he had recently impersonated a member of her family’s household guard in order to gain access to their treasure vaults and make off with a small fortune. His name was De’Naryn Sparrowsong. He begged Aryn to show mercy and not turn him in, offering her the location of where he had stashed the rest of his ill-gotten treasure as amends for his deed. Aryn seemed to agree to spare his life.
Meanwhile, Quincy helped himself to all the food in Glen’s minifridge, and Cupcake and Glen bathed and washed their clothes in preparation for dinner.
The Plot Thickens…
Leaving her room after speaking to De’Naryn, Aryn spied one of the patrons, a dwarf named Craghand Irondelve, pocketing a message as a messenger raven flew off over the Inn’s third-floor balcony. Stepping ever so quietly, she managed to pull a couple of small pieces of parchment from the dwarf’s pocket. They were letters that identified Craghand as a bounty hunter. One was from Aryn’s own family guard, detailing a wanted thief named De’Naryn Sparrowsong. The other was more disturbing. Aryn recognized it immediately as Lord Haldor‘s handwriting. It promised a reward of 200 gold pieces for each head the dwarf was able to bring back from the adventuring party that had betrayed him, or 500 gold pieces if they were captured and brought back alive.
Aryn met with Glen and Quincy to discuss this development. She milked some poison from her pet viper’s fangs just in case she needed to use it. They considered their options on how to proceed. Should they try to confront the dwarf? Could they possibly gain any allies in the tavern? Would it be possible to frame Craghand for a murder and turn the others against him while they looked like heroes?
They continued to discuss this as they went down to dinner. The beautiful halfling Rose and the sturdy orc Lurog joined them at their table for dinner, and it seemed clear that the adventurers had won the friendship of these two. They learned that Lurog was the only surviving member of his clan and held a grudge against dwarves. He sought to satisfy a debt of honor and avenge his ancestors.
Rose began to feel comfortable enough to tentatively agree to coming with Aryn on her adventures. She wanted to think it over through the night, but in the meantime, she asked a curious favor of Aryn. Rose revealed that she and the injured paladin Kristoff had been lovers once. He had left on a quest and never returned, and she had thought that he died. But now, she was certain that the man with the bandage around his head, sitting alone in the corner of the tavern, was him. It hurt her that he appeared not to know who she was. She asked Aryn to go and talk to him. She had to know if there was a chance that Kristoff was simply faking the amnesia brought on by a head wound because he no longer wanted to be with her.
In the interest of gaining a potential ally, Aryn agreed to talk to him. It seemed clear that the paladin was at best confused, and at worst truly mentally impaired. Aryn convinced him to tell Rose that it was over between them for the sake of giving her some closure to their relationship. The ensuing interaction brought the poor girl to tears, and she retired to her room for the evening.
Goren came over to the adventurers’ table with a proposition. He understood that they were adventurers of some renown, having worked alongside the Valiant Chosen and everything. He wondered if they could help him out with a small problem, and in return, he would show them his stock of private goods — special items that he would only sell to people he trusted. The problem was that his Uncle Bael was always bothering him, wanting to play a game of some kind. Goren was busy trying to run the Inn, and asked the adventurers if they could entertain his uncle by playing a game with him.
They were interested, but first, Glen had to attend the after-dinner meeting he had arranged with Harold Vernmeyer.
Meeting together in a private room, Glen wasted no time in getting straight to the point. He knew that Harold was a sham, and that he was essentially peddling snake oil… and Glen wanted in on the scheme. Casting a charm spell, Glen magically coerced Harold into telling him his secrets about the performance he and his daughter put on at every city, inn, and tavern they traveled to. Grace would sip from a diluted sleeping draught, Harold would make a scene as if she were dead, and once the potent blue-razzberry flavor of his so-called magnificent elixir touched her lips, she would awake as if brought back from the dead. This was often times enough to convince simple minded onlookers to purchase his magnificent elixir. Agreeing to continue discussing business terms later, they parted ways. Harold went up to his room for the night, and Glen joined his companions at the bar, ready to begin whatever game Goren’s uncle had in mind.
Fire, Brimstone, and a Puzzle
The adventurers followed Goren behind the bar and into the cellar, where the tielfing opened up a secret room and summoned his Uncle Bael via a red pentagram scrawled into the floor. It turned out that his uncle was Bealzethor the Wicked, Prince of Phlegethos the Fourth Hell, Flayer of Flesh, Doom Dealer, and Devourer of Flame, etc, etc. He was a prince of the Nine Hells who had grown weary of inflicting everlasting torment upon wicked souls. He was more interested in toying with mortals. The game he proposed was this; one of the patrons of the tavern was a lost soul that had somehow escaped from his domain. He needed to have a soul to take its place. Bealzethor hoped that the adventurers would be capable enough to discover who the lost soul might be, but he was willing to accept anyone they brought to him by midnight. As an added incentive, if they brought him the correct soul, he would share the deed to a nearby castle that they could claim as their own.
Quincy had agreed to stay in the common room to keep an eye on the dwarven bounty hunter that was after them, so it was up to Glen and Aryn to tackle this challenge.
Their first step was to make sure the contract Bealzethor wanted them to sign was up to snuff. Sure enough, upon close examination, they found a few unnecessary clauses and loopholes that they forced him to amend. Aryn was still too wary, so Glen ended up being the only one to sign. There was one stipulation. If they failed to find any soul to give Bealzethor by midnight, he would take one of them to fill its place in eternal torment among the flames of Phlegethos , the fourth Hell.
The Game’s Afoot
It was just after dinner when Glen and Aryn began their investigation. They first questioned Goren and his serving staff, two goblins named Inta and Nerf. None of them seemed to be souls worthy of eternal damnation. They had a suspicion about Kristoff, though.
Glen convinced him that he might be able to apply more holistic healing if Kristoff would let him examine his body and his head wound. They retreated to a private room and Glen did just that. The paladin’s skin seemed pale and slightly blue. The head wound was discovered to be a horrific gash where the skull had been split open to reveal the brain. The writhing maggots in the flesh surrounding the wound explained the foul stench Glen had observed earlier when interacting with the man. Still, Kristoff seemed only vaguely aware of his surroundings. Glen cast detect magic and sensed a curious enchantment aura about the man… and a faint magical essence from somewhere on the third floor as well.
In the meantime, Aryn was chatting with Grace Vernmeyer, the young lady who had been carried into the Inn by her father earlier in the evening. She seemed to have recovered all her vitality, and even flirted with Aryn. Eventually, they purchased another bottle of wine and moved the conversation up to Aryn’s room. An enjoyable time was had by all.
Striking a Deal
Making his way upstairs in search of the magic he was detecting, Glen soon found himself at the door to Harold Vernmeyer’s room. The charm spell from earlier had worn off, and Harold was rather peeved with the kobold for using such a tactic. He was still agreeable to their arrangement, though. He agreed to an endorsement deal. The Valiant Chosen would take a supply of Harold’s blue-razzberry flavored potions and advertise them throughout Nymeria in return for an endorsement payment. Glen also bought one of Harold’s sleeping draughts, which he figured may come in handy later.
A Tense Moment
After bidding farewell to Grace a short while later, Aryn met back up with Glen. In the hallway of the second floor, they encountered Craghand and decided to confront him about the bounties he was pursuing. The dwarf seemed like a deadly and capable fellow, but neither group gave an inch or was able to intimidate the other. The tense confrontation nearly came to blows, but Aryn was able to convince Craghand to give them time to persuade him not to follow through with his bounty. If they could offer him enough to buy his loyalty, he would consider it. He gave them until the next day.
Now, they were faced with an interesting scenario. They were tasked with sending someone to hell forever. Who better than a potential enemy? If they delivered Craghand to Bealzethor, it would solve their problem. But they would not gain a castle if he was not the right soul.
They were pretty certain that Kristoff was some sort of undead being. He had to be the lost soul. Had he given up his soul to save Rose, the woman he once loved, from some horrible fate? Was Rose a necromancer who had resurrected her lost lover Kristoff from the dead? They needed to get more info from the halfling woman before they could be sure.
By Any Other Name
The duo knocked on Rose’s door and woke her up to question her. She was a bit upset from the events earlier in the evening, but gave no indication that she was somehow implicated in harboring a lost soul worthy of an eternity in hell.
Time to Act
They were all but certain now that Kristoff was the right choice to deliver unto the Prince of the fourth level of hell. Now, they only had to find a way to convince him to follow them into the cellar. They knock on his door and tell him to come to the cellar so that they can treat his head wound. He refuses and locks the door. Aryn picks the lock and they attempt to intimidate him into going to the cellar. Kristoff behaves very strangely and resists them at first, but they tell him that they know he is undead. Aryn asks what kind of life he could possibly lead like this.
Kristoff tells them that he has been forsaken by his God. He dreams of fire and pain — a place he feels he has been before and never wished to return to. Aryn promises that they will help him and she gains his trust. He agrees to follow them to the cellar.
As soon as they open the secret door and Kristoff sees the pentagram on the floor, he knows that something is not right.
Glen and Aryn try to tell him that this is for the best. He cannot continue on this way. Aryn tells him to think of Rose. Would she want him to continue like this? He only shrieks, “You have deceived me! I won’t go back!”
Kristoff’s body crumples to the floor, lifeless as it has been this this entire time. The spirit that had been possessing the paladin’s body rises up and attacks. “I won’t go back!”
Aryn is so frightened by this that she turns to run. Her body is so severely affected that she feels like she has aged twenty years. Glen stands firm.
He commands the ghostly spirit to flee from him, invoking the holy power of his own deity. But the lost spirit resists. Instead, it reaches out and shocks Aryn to the core with a touch of withering necrotic energy. Glen has just enough time to call out for Bealzethor.
With a puff of red smoke and the scent of brimstone, the devil appears. The soul, seeing it’s captor once more, flies into a desperate rage and tries to attack him. In another puff of red smoke, Bealzethor and the ghost are gone.
The two companions barely have time to catch their breath before Bealzethor appears again. He seems incredibly pleased with them and notices that Aryn has suffered some serious effects from her encounter with the spirit. He motions her close and spirits her away to his palace in the flaming hellscape of Phlegethos, where he commands his chief wizard Salamandrus, a magma-infused slamander, to restore her.
The two of them then appear back in the material plane, and Bealzethor thanks them for platying his game. He is delighted that they made it so interesting.
Glen is awarded the deed to a castle in the Grimwarden Forest, and Bealzethor tells them that he is always up for a good game before departing back to his home plane for good.