Mid-morning in Winterhaven: Villagers bustle about the town square, browsing the wares of local merchant’s stalls filled with produce, meats, simple tools, and trinkets. The chatter of people and the sounds of barter mingle with the clucking of chickens, the barking of dogs, and the mooing of cows, creating a din clearly audible throughout the walled city. Market Day has arrived, and with it the most exciting event of any given week for Winterhaven’s residents. Inside the nearby Inn, the ‘Stoppers are finishing their morning meal and discussing how best to find a healer for their party. Salvana Wrafton, the innkeeper, overhears their plight and suggests they visit the Temple of Avandra, telling them she knows an armored Dragonborn came into town last night with a symbol of the dragon god Bahamut on his shield.
Stepping into the Temple’s echoing chamber, Artemis spots a kneeling Dragonborn near the front of the room. Hearing their entry, the Paladin stands and turns to face them, a proud and curious look on his face. His demeanor changes suddenly when he spots an Elf near the rear of the group.
“Carff! Many miles have I traveled to see you stand before me!” He motions for the battleaxe fastened to the back of his plate armor, but pauses when he considers his surroundings. “This temple is not the proper setting for what must be done. Step outside, vile brigand!”
Carff, while just as surprised as the rest of the group, maintains a look of bemusement even in the face of the imposing Paladin in full raiment. “I’m not here to fight you, Dragonborn. What right have you to challenge me?”
The Paladin booms “I could fill tomes with your misdeeds, evil Carff! I, Arjuhn, have learned through various channels of your persecution of innocents! I am honor-bound to avenge them and slay you!”
The rogue responds with a chuckle, just a hint of anxiety evident in his brief sideward glance and shift in position. “I have always done what needs to be done and today will be no different.” Becoming more serious, he proclaims “We are working to put an end to the worsening Kobold problem threatening this region whilst you waste your time seeking a supposedly evil elf based on nothing more than rumor? Who’s task is more honorable? Join us and redeem your false judgment.”
Arjuhn’s stance softens as Carff alludes to the shaky foundation of his conviction, the fire draining out of his eyes. A few moments of silence follow before he speaks again. “Very well… it is my duty to assist the helpless villagers of this town. I will join you, for now.” He begins to gather his belongings, stopping short for a moment, ”...but I still don’t trust you, Elf.”
The quiet roar of a distant waterfall reaches the ears of the ‘Stoppers as they travel up the river towards the Kobold Lair. It’s late afternoon when they reach the waterfall. Carff and Aeric are the first to notice the kobolds idly chatting in loose half group, half guard positions, not expecting any visitors to know of their whereabouts. A single Dragonshield stands at the center of a sacred circle of stones, mumbling draconic phrases under his breath as a repetitive prayer. Nearly a dozen slightly smaller kobolds are scattered around the river between the sacred circle and the waterfall. These “minions” are drawn from the general population of the kobolds, largely untrained for battle and relatively undisciplined. Two trained kobolds, a Slinger and a spear-wielding Skirmisher, guard what must be the lair’s entrance, hidden behind the waterfall.
The ‘Stoppers begin a stealthy approach, but the less skilled members of the group ultimately give them away. The kobolds near the far end of the clearing are the first to notice and respond, yelling words of warning in high-pitched tones to their brethren upstream. By the time the kobolds are fully prepared to face the new threat, Skitlezzz, Artemis, and Carff are already making short work of the minions south of the sacred circle while the remainder gather around the Dragonshield in its center. Likot suddenly emerges from the treeline a few feet away and performs a deft manuever, managing to fully switch places with the surprised Kobold Dragonshield! “I am a leaf on the wind!” Likot cries as he defends himself from the minions that now surround him, occasionally sparing a moment throughout the battle to bark combat orders at nearby party members.
Arjuhn quickly follows Likot’s charge, but with weapon still sheathed. Skidding to a controlled stop just ahead of the Dragonshield’s swiping short sword, he rears back and breathes in deep, then lurches forward with mouth wide open, spewing freezing cold in a cone-shaped blast over the circle of stones. The Dragonshield just manages to raise the scale lashed to its arm in time to prevent instant death, but the minions are not so lucky. They clatter to the ground, their small frames nearly frozen solid. Likot, even expecting the attack, was unable to resist some damage from the fierce cold.
Aeric is the last to step from the trees, and seeing the minions falling quickly, maintains an overtly casual attitude. In stark contrast to the energetic battlecries and violent clashes erupting all around him, Aeric sends a few casually aimed arcane projectiles at nearby enemies, most of which miss their targets. Stopping to focus for a moment, the Eladrin conjures a Ray of Frost and lands it squarely on the Kobold Dragonshield’s back. Already shivering from Arjuhn’s massive blast, the poor kobold can resist no more and finally crumbles to Aeric’s evocation. Satisfied with his work, Aeric tosses his hair back and strolls forward.
Nearer the waterfall, Artemis and Skitlezzz are approaching the Slinger and the last surviving minion. Charging through the brush and into the center of the river, Skitlezzz yells “Taste the Rainbow!” as the steel from his sword cleaves the frail Kobold. Blood from the swing mingles with the mist of the waterfall and, for a brief moment, a rainbow shines in the afternoon sun. Skitlezzz lets loose a hearty, satisfied laugh at the sight.
Artemis, standing on the bank behind the barbarian, points her finger at the Slinger on the opposite side and whispers a demonic utterance, instantaneously cursing the hapless Slinger. Later the party would speculate that she somehow cursed not just the kobold but everyone there, as what followed could only be accurately described as a series of critical failures. Dropped weapons, missteps, and profanity characterize the scene as both sides fail to do damage to the other. Disheartened by their dire situation, the Slinger and the Skirmisher begin to run for the waterfall in an effort to warn the creatures inside.
Neither achieves its goal.