Mikail stood on the crest of a small hill overlooking the town of Ashenport. He briefly wondered what had ever compelled the companions to travel through this forlorn region to seek out the dreary, isolated town below him. He already knew the answer to that, however. Greed.
They had come to remote seaside village chasing rumors of an annual trade fair that featured ancient and powerful artifacts fished out of the ocean. They were simply there looking to add to their already formidable collection of gear. Questions about how such a provincial community came by such items were far from their minds.
So they stood in the most intense storm they had ever experienced looking down on the lonely and depressing fishing community. Although it was midday it might as well have been late evening by the amount of light filtering through the heavy dark clouds. Thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and the torrential downpour beat down on them. Mikail gathered his cloak around him, what little good it did.
“Well”, he thought to himself, “nothing good is likely to come of this. Best get on with it then.”
Deciding to follow up on the rumors they heard of a spectacular trade fair, the party traveled to the remote seaside town of Ashenport. Most of the trip was pleasant enough. However, while still about a day’s journey from the town, an immense thunderstorm set in. The storm was still raging as they entered the town.
The first place they visited was The Bountiful Tide General Store, hoping to get some early shopping in. Inside they met Lena the shopkeeper, a pleasant elderly woman. She mentioned to them that the trade fair was still on, but that the town’s leaders had decided to postpone the start until the storm blew over. In the meantime they were welcome to check out the wares of her store. Not finding anything of interest the party moved on.
Next the party decided to visit The Smooth Sailing Inn and Tavern for some food, drink, and a bed. Inside they found several other fellow travelers that were also staying in Ashenport for the fair. Most of the interesting patrons turned out to merchants seeking exclusive trading rights along with their retinues of advisers and guards. Among these were Terza from the Goldleaf Consortium, Matthias Creel representing Surrens, Creel, and Blackwell, and Jandal Phen and independent jeweler and sculptor.
Immeral managed to sell some evil artifacts of Baphomet to Matthias Creel for a decent sum. The transaction seemed to catch the eye of the strange staff of the inn, but eventually they went back to their business. Finally, after spending some time swapping stories, the party secured a room and headed to bed.
In the early pre-dawn morning, a lonesome, sad wail echoed out over the town seeming to emanate from the sea. It started low, then rose to a high pitched keening that seemed burdened with loss and despair. More alarming, was the fact that several of the party members rose out of their beds in an apparent trance and headed out into the driving rain. Among these were Mikail, Shardon, and Balasar. They were not alone as several of the merchant guards had also risen from their slumber in an apparent trance. They all began heading to the sea. In fact, the first of the victims were already wading into the water in an apparent attempt to drown themselves.
In desperation, Immeral smacked Mikail across the face in an effort to snap him out of his stupor. This seemed to work as Mikail regained his senses. They quickly awakened the others in a similar manner as well as several of the guards. However, not before a few guards had disappeared into the tossing waves never to be seen again.
Gathering themselves back at the inn they discovered that the staff were nowhere to be found. In fact, the entire town seemed devoid of residents. Only the heroes and their fellow visitors remained. Knowing that travel in these conditions was a foolish idea, the merchants turned to the heroes and asked them to investigate the mystery of the town.
The party headed out to start their investigations. They decided to start by checking out the Ash Grove that occupied a prominent spot in the center of the town. As they approached they were ambushed by a few crazed looking townsfolk wielding weapons and spells. The party eventually dispatched of the villains and stared down at their broken bodies in the unrelenting downpour and wondered what could possibly be going on.