The village of Falcon’s Reach is located on the border of the Angillion empire and Erebor, the houses as geometrically set out, and the people have had it hard. The weary faces of the villagers and farmers glare bleary-eyed at the others in the Laughing Monk tavern and conversation is at a minimum. Small pockets of dockhands and labourers sit on isolated tables only occasionally raising their glasses to drink.
The barmaid at the Monk, Melmiriel, has had a slow day, and now it is getting late in the evening. There are only a few people left in the tavern, one middle aged human sat on his own in the corner calls her over. “Wench, give me ’nutha” He looks at her lustfully as she hands him a pint. He grins toothily, which is surprising considering how few teeth he has, and offers to tell her a tale of the battles on the border to which she politely declines. He looks at her for a second, before launching forward, grabbing her hand, slipping a piece of folded paper into it. He then stumbles to the door and leaves. She watches him leave and then glances around the common room to make sure that the customers are content.
As she looks, she sees Gared the owner, who indicates for her to follow him into a back room, before leaving the bar in the capable hands of his wife. Following him outback, Melmiriel finds herself in his office, he motions for her to take a seat before sitting in one of the two servicable but comfortable chairs. He asked her whether there was a problem, to which she replied no. He then warns her against dealing with that particular customer again and asked that if he should enter the tavern again, she tell him.
When Melmiriel entered the common room again, she looked around and almost immediately she got asked for a drink by a large, brutish-looking human that has personal hygiene issues sat next to what appears to be a swarthy half wilder-elf male, whom the human turns back to. She offers the elf a drink also, he orders a cask brew. The human starts talking to him about the “witch” that they have caught and it soon becomes very evident that the two are not friends as the conversation is brought to a close with the elf manhandling the human and throwing him out of the door, breaking his nose in the process. The elf then sits back down at the bar and drinks.
She then tends to a young human woman with auburn hair and soft, pale skin. Her clothes are of high quality silks although she wears a heavy fur-lined woolen cloak with the hood obscuring most of her face. Meanwhile, Gared calls last orders and asks what happened, to which the elf replies: “Some lumbering brute of a Human accused me of Magery, so I made him eat pavement. No problems here, publican, just folk being folk.” He watched Mel serve the young human with interest as he speaks with Gared.
Melmiriel asks the young woman whether she was sticking around or moving on soon, which caused the woman to almost ask for help but retract the request before she had finished asking it. The two press the point until she tells that she cannot talk openly because ‘they’ might be listening. The male elf recognises her as being an Angillion lady of quality. Meanwhile, a young man enters as they are talking and seems to be interested in the young woman. When confronted, he brushes off Melmiriel and continues towards her. She offers a reward to the two if they help her escape. Melmiriel tries to seduce the man while the swarthy elf sneaks the woman out of the tavern. While the man’s attention is devoted to Melmiriel, Gared sneaks up behind him and hits him with the mace he keeps behind the bar, knocking him out. He then picked the man up and, with Melmiriel’s help, tied him up in a back bedroom, all-the-while trying to make her understand that what she just did was very dangerous and she shouldn’t have tried. They speak about what she is going to do next and she decides that she is going to leave.
The swarthy elf and the human woman head out to the old farm ruins, where they made introductions. The elf is called Mathrehal Oredrean and she is called Starla. The two decide to get a fire going and go outside to find wood.
Meanwhile, Melmiriel returns with Gared to the common room where he gives her a small leather bag, she went to her room to look at the note and the contents of the bag. She inspected the piece of paper, which simply said: “If you want to know about your family, come to the tower.” and then she looks in the bag. It contains a silver chain, inexspensive but of good quality. After making sure all of her stuff is packed, she leaves for the tower.
On the way, she sees the two gathering wood and decides to join them. Introductions are made, and they decide to talk in the farm house next to a warm fire. They then turned to Starla and asked her to tell them why she was wanted by the State. She explains: “Alright, I will explain.” She looks around for a stable chair, finds none and so continues to stand. “You must understand that I do not agree that Angillion should conquer the world, which some of the people think they are entitled to. I am Starla Andre, first daughter of the Emperor.” She paused, allowing the information to sink in.
“Well, that’s a bit of a negative development…” Mathrehal states.
“You could say that.” She started to pace the room. “I have ways to find out information, which is very scarce in the Castle. It was a job finding one of my father’s spies that was willing to work for me. I found out that my father has been conducting some very…. interesting experiments on the other-folk of Angillion lands. I wish to stop it.” They spoke for a couple more hours before deciding to go to the tower the next day.
Melmeriel does not trust the human and decides to talk with Mathrehal alone. She tells him that when she was younger she awoke one morning to find her entire family missing. No sign of a struggle, they were just gone. She also tells him about the drunk at the tavern giving her the slip of paper and what it said. They set up watches and get some sleep.
The next morning, the party finds themselves at the tower. It is an old, circular, tall watchtower with dark gray stone and heavy wooden doors. Ivy and creepers have grown into the stone in places that the area around is overgrown, making a clear path to the front door difficult to find. Once inside the party find themselves in a combined common room and dining area, with book cases around the edges of the room and several tables that contain notes and magical apparatus. They look around the room and Mathrehal finds a stack of papers that contain some very interesting and creepy information. He read it aloud: “Subject twelve is responding well to the therapy and is showing real signs of improvement. We may be able to release it soon.” They then find footsteps in the thin layer of dust that leads upstairs. They decide to follow them, and on the next floor the find the drunk sat at a table, just watching them as they enter.
He tells Meliriel that her parents are dead, he says that he found out that they had gone missing and that he went to go find them to repay them for a kindness they once showed to him. He found them, both misshapen and almost unrecognisable. He laid them to rest. When Meliriel refuses to give up on them, he tells her that he never found her sister. Mathrehal and Starla argue about the Emperor (and Mathrehal finds out that the Emperor is seventy-three), which is concluded when Melmiriel interjects, insulting Starla into silence.
The party search the tower, finding nothing of note other than the complete lack of people. It looks like the entire tower’s inhabitants just upped and left without taking a single item with them. The only place left to search is the basement.