Sildar meets the party the following morning in the common room of the inn. He is dressed in the fine blue and grey raiment of his station in the Lords’ Alliance. Smiling, as if to old friends, he invites them to sit at a large round table. I took the liberty of ordering us all breakfast, if you wouldn’t mind joining me. I need to speak to you all of some matters of great importance. But first, I believe I have a debt to settle. He drops a small leather pouch of coins in the center of the table. The 50 gold in payment of your escort. With all the excitement yesterday, I neglected to properly introduced myself. My name is Sildar Hallwinter. I am an agent of the Lords’ Alliance, reporting directly to the Lord Protector of Neverwinter, Dagult Neverember. It was he who commissioned my presence in Phandelin.
The Lords’ Alliance is a group of allied political powers concerned with mutual security and prosperity. Members of the order strive to ensure the safety of cities and settlements by eliminating threats. In addition to providing military support and a forum for the peaceful airing of differences, the Alliance has always acted under the principle that communities with common cause that engage in trade are less likely to go to war with one another. In the last three or four years, settlers from the cities of Neverwinter and Waterdeep have begun the hard work of reclaiming the ruins of Phandelin. A bustling frontier settlement has grown upon the site of the old town, and is now home to farmers, woodcutters, fur traders, and prospectors drawn by stories of gold in the foothills of the Sword Mountains. Unfortunately, more than a few bandits and brigands have settled here as well, taking advantage of the fact that the area has no local lord or authority to chase them off. At present, Phandelin has no functioning government, though the townsfolk elect someone to act as townmaster each year. The townmaster serves as judge to minor disputes and keeps any records that need keeping, but holds little leverage over those who have no regard for the law. The current townmaster is a male human banker named Harbin Webster, and, as is to be expected, a little out of his depth. Steps were taken to correct this when the Alliance dispatched an agent by the name of Iarno Albrek to Phandelin. Iarno’s role was to bolster the townmaster’s authority; tutor him, if necessary, in the ways of governing, but ultimately to establish order, while submitting regular reports back to the Alliance. Strangely, we have heard no word from him since he left.
A tenday ago your patron, Gundren Rockseeker, arrived in Neverwinter to submit a claim for the lost mine of Wave Echo Cave. More than a few false claims to the mine have been made over the centuries, and with no proof, authorities have never given the claims much attention. But the Rockseekers come from reputable stock, what’s more, Gundren carried with him a map to the exact location. This evidence was enough to garner the Lords’ attention. With the prospect of a very valuable mine reestablishing the wealth and trade to this area of the coast, and the not-so-small matter of a missing agent of the Lords’ Alliance, I was commissioned to escort Gundren back to Phandelin. As you know, our trip was waylaid by goblins. Some three score overwhelmed us, killing our horses. They rained down from the trees and flooded in from behind the brush. I’m sure I ended six of the little bastards before they swarmed on the dwarf, demanding my surrender lest they tear him to pieces. There were too many. Gundren would have been dead before I could have taken another step. But discretion is the better part of valor, they say.
The bugbear you defeated in the caves was their tribe leader, but, as I discovered, he is subordinate to someone else. From what I was able to discern, he’d been given orders to raid any travelers headed towards Phandelin. He was looking for Gundren, or more specifically, Gundren’s map. I believe he was taken to a location called Cragmaw Castle on the orders of an entity known as the Black Spider. Who or what this Black Spider is, I do not know. Nor do I know the location of Cragmaw Castle. But that, if you are obliging, is where you come in. I was up early this morning making preparations and was able to establish a note of credit here in town. The Alliance has authorized the employ of deputies in matters of urgency.
And as I now have a missing dwarf as well as a missing agent, it makes far more sense to employ individuals of your talent rather than send word to Neverwinter that I require assistance and then wait for their reply. Time really is of the essence. I believe your skills would be of great help, and would appreciate your cooperation in the matter. As compensation I can pay 500 gold pieces for the safe return of Gundren, assuming he is still alive, and the destruction of his captors. 100 up front, to assist in the purchase of weaponry and provisions. The rest upon completion. Question the townsfolk. Find Cragmaw Castle. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the creature Yeemik may know more than he claims. It seems the prosperity of Phandelin lies in Gundren’s recovery. It is imperative that he be found. Lastly, if you hear any word on Iarno Albrek, or Gundren’s two brothers I want to know. My immediate responsibility is Harbin Webster. You can find me at the townmaster’s office while there is still daylight. I will be here at the inn after nightfall. Regardless of the hour, I want word as soon as you have it.
Gentlemen, you are now in the employ of the Lords’ Alliance. I urge you not to take this commission lightly. Enjoy your breakfast. If things go badly, I fear it may be the last hot meal you see for days.