A caravan of performers from Sorcha’s Sorca, the largest circus in the country, arrived in the city of Buga’s Hill in the early evening. By the time families were finishing their supper, the performers had set up at Twyn Square and started dancing, juggling, and telling stories. By then the Wood Elf Olo and the Air Genasi Voltyra had come to watch with the crowds. A trio of goblin acrobats was unleashed from one of the locked carriages, and as it came time to unleash the finale, they went to release the drum-playing Dragonborn.
As a juggler was unlocking the carriage, a warning toll emanated from the city’s bell tower. With it, the scent of roses wafted through the air. Flowers sprung from every free patch of earth. The ominous notes from the bell tower transformed into pleasant chiming, a tune recognized by Olo and Voltyra as the Ballad of Roses. The circus performers packed up as their guards prodded the goblin acrobats back into their travelling cell. Voltyra, knowing what all of this meant, warned Olo, “We should keep our heads low.” Leika, the Goddess of Beauty, had arrived in town. They kept pace with the dispersing crowds as they followed the circus caravan down the road and around the corner.
Year ago, Voltyra made an alliance with Balaam, a devil who is seeking out to undo the Conquest of Beauty, and it was now her desire to convert others to her cause and get them to join her in active rebellion. Olo wasn’t interested, but he’s been following her around for about a month now anyway. He comes from a noble background and has turned into a Robin Hood of sorts. If he sees an ugly damsel in distress, he’s more than happy to rescue her. Or him.
The two hardly needed to exchange a word as they decided to rescue Svarnik and the goblins from their enslavement in the circus.
Three guards hung around the two parked carriages between two buildings, right along the river Usk. Olo and Voltyra could hear the Dragonborn continuing to beat his drums inside his mobile cage. Seeing as the streets were still scattered with people, they decided they needed a distraction. Olo suggested he and Voltyra go inside the tavern next to them and see what they could do. A window gave them visible access to the caravans, so Voltyra waited there while Olo went to the bar and purchased a round of drinks for everyone, gaining the attention of everyone there. While ten more people came in from the street for free drinks, Voltyra cast a spell around the carriages, creating a twenty-foot radius of fog.
Svarnik beat his drums more ominously.
Olo and Voltyra sprung into action. Olo brought more drinks out for the guards, practically running into one that had started meandering towards the door. Voltyra stepped in to distract the other two while Olo sneaked back to the locked doors of the carriage.
Olo succeeded in picking the lock on his first try, but failed to free Svarnik from his chains. One of the guards thought he heard something so he came back to investigate. Olo made to shut the door and hide under the carriage. Alas, the guard spotted him just before he ducked out of sight. He bent down to spot the troublemaker as he chided him for being somewhere he shouldn’t… and Olo knocked him out cold.
Olo managed to free Svarnik from his chains on his next try. He quickly moved on to free the goblins from the second carriage. No sooner had he unlocked it than the goblins shoved the door open and attacked.
Voltyra quickly cast Thaumaturgy to distract the guard she was talking to so he wouldn’t hear the fight happening behind them. By then the third guard had wandered all the way inside the tavern.
Svarnik stepped in to aid in the battle with nothing but the dagger Olo handed him as he came to help. Together they took out all three goblins. Only then did Olo find the keys on the unconscious guard’s person, as well as two gold to replace the money he just spent in the tavern. When he found a personal letter, he tucked it into the guard’s underclothes in order to keep it safe.
Voltyra waved goodbye to the guard after Olo tossed a rock past her head. She and Svarnik would be considered ‘ugly’ in a city like this and Dragonborn are rarely even seen, and thus they did what they could to avoid confrontation. Voltyra used her Genasi ability to fly the three of them over the river to the lesser half of the city. They managed to leave the city of Buga’s Hill without incident. After about two hours of northward travel, they stopped for the night. It just so happened that Olo is a hoarder and was able to provide Svarnik with an extra bedroll.
The night went peacefully until the third watch, when it was Svarnik’s job to guard them. Dawn was breaking. The grass rustled. A decaying Crawling Claw came out into the open, heading right for Svarnik. He gave a shout of alarm. Olo aroused from his trance and pulled out his bow and arrow. The claw died in one hit. Voltyra stayed at the camp while Olo and Svarnik looked around for other danger or an idea of why it was there. It didn’t take long for Svarnik discover a rotting human corpse hanging from a tree, a noose around its neck, both hands missing. They found nothing else, which left them only with the knowledge that at one point there was a necromancer in the area.
Shortly the group moved on, and they reached the city of Skara by noon. Svarnik knew the circus had once had plans to send performers that far north but cancelled them. That wasn’t where they were heading, however. Olo had heard rumors of a wizard in the village of Downhill searching for an apprentice, and Voltyra in particular had an interest in going to see this wizard. That is the destination they had in mind. As it was, the main road came to an end at Skara’s southern gates and they had no further directions on how to reach Downhill, so the party had to stop.
The first person they asked for directions didn’t so much as look at him. Instead he continued on his way out of the city and suggested they ask someone else. Olo lead the way to the first shop, a butchery, where they purchased some meat and asked the butcher for the way.
“Ah, you heard about the thief?” the butcher asked.
“Thief? No we did not. What thief?”
“They had a couple of items stolen from them recently. They’re looking for someone to help get them back.”
This piqued the group’s interest a little. Now they had two things to do in Downhill. Olo proceeded to ask if there was anything else they should know while they were in the area.
He gestured to the silver Dragonborn and the Air Genasi with markings on her cheek. “Yeah, about that. Lord Toma is in town. Your friends there might want to lay low.”
A nobleman by birth, only Olo was familiar with the name. Lord Toma was another elf, another nobleman, from the city of Beirut. He was known to spend the warmer months of the year in the north. He was also known for having the most beautiful city on this side of the Montes Angelo, a north-south running mountain range that divides the great kingdom.
Olo went on to find a weapon for Svarnik on his own, and though the weapons shop was oddly bare, he found what Svarnik wanted. The group then walked eastward along the outside of the city wall, per the butcher’s directions, until they found a worn path that led around the curve of Devil’s Peak.
After an hour of walking they found the village of Downhill, and here is where the campaign officially begins.