Keyleth (female half-elf cleric), Lynx (female high elf druid), Walter (male lightfoot halfling ranger), Ruk Bearclaw (male half-orc barbarian/monk) and Emig (male dragonborn paladin) woke up on a large pile of ash.
They were dressed in ragged clothing and torn ceremonial robes of some sort. All their weapons and armour and magical equipment was gone. They were also wearing bloody bandages and each of them had numerous scars that hadn’t been there before. It also seemed their hair was longer and the dragonborn’s scales had darkened. (Indicating some time had passed….)
There was no sign of Nephreus (tiefling warlock) or Kylen (forest gnome arcane trickster), but there were two sets of footprints leading away from the ash pile….
The sky above them was filled with dark black storm clouds and something hidden above them was burning, filling the air with a fine rain of ash.
Digging around the large ash pile revealed a few simple weapons and a shield with a crude image of Sune painted on it.
Soon they heard the sound of approaching farmers. They spotted some strange wolf-like creatures circling around the farmers. The party rushed down to defend the farmers and their cattle, and found they were battling wolves with 8 legs and 8 eyes! Despite the disturbing feeling these creatures created, they managed to keep focused and quickly killed all the creatures.
Talking with the farmers they learnt that the pile of ash was called “corpse hill” and was apparently a large pile of bones, possibly of a company of elves from “the war”. The farmers also thought they were mad for being on top of corpse hill. They also discovered this area was called “the Ashlands” and nearby was a village called “Ashfall”.
They also learnt their gold and gems were now worthless, this was a barter society.
There is a large stone road the farmers call “the road” and is made from some kind of stone that softly vibrates, keeping any ash from settling on it.
The dragonborn was treated with great respect by the locals, bowing to him and calling “my lord” and one of the “guardians”. The Halfling, on the other hand, was treated like a slave.
Also somewhat disturbing is the way people greet each other with “Hail Tiamat”, and use colourful language like “Sune’s buttocks” and “Habbakuk’s balls”.
Ashfall is a small town with a few hundred people living in stone buildings. There is an inn called “The Old Wizard” and is run by a stern young human woman called Mera, with 2 half-orc twin brothers (Faress & Helmet) as security.
At the inn, Emig the dragonborn was treated like royalty and Walter the Halfling was bossed around like a slave. Some locals had recently made a trade and got some new instruments, which none of them could play. Walter showed the “band” a few simple chords and is trying to teach them.
When everyone had gone home Mera asked them to get out of town for a few days. The reeve Namzeru (a black half-dragon) and his gang of dragonborn “guardians” (aka thugs) would be making a trip through town to do inspections and collect tribute, if the characters were in town there would be trouble as they stood out and attracted unwanted attention.
In the centre of town is a well and a shrine to Tiamat. Villagers have to cut their hands on the sharp rock each day to pay blood tribute to Tiamat.
Mera asked the party to travel a day out of town and investigate a farm that had gone silent. On the hike there they discovered a note that read “It is not a farm. Make sure there are no witnesses.”
When they reached the “farm” they discovered it was actually the ruins of some fortress, rubble strewn all over the area and only one watchtower left standing. Outside the tower they fought and killed some strange reptilian humanoids with swords instead of arms who appeared to have attacked the tower but had been fought off.
Inside the tower they discovered six dead humans, and locked in a cage on the top floor was a curious old Halfling dressed in animal furs decorated with bones, teeth and claws. He introduces himself as Rinas Tonell, but is known as “The Soothsayer”. He claims there is a secret underground part of the tower where a great secret is hidden.
Keyleth the cleric gets a strange feeling in the tower, for a second it felt like there was a black shadow and spreading dark wings behind her.