* Three travelers gathered outside the city walls of Salt Marsh, having journeyed long and hard looking for adventure. They had heard rumors of mysteries surrounding the town and had come to see for themselves.
* A guard stationed outside the gate stopped them on their way in. The first to approach was a human ranger named Arborius, a slightly pompous man who told the guard the truth— he was here for ADVENTURE!
* While he was talking to the guard, a second man came up, a human cleric named Nestor. Nestor modestly asked the guard for a brochure of the town, which the guard provided.
* While Nestor was looking over the brochure, a third man approached, a dwarven fighter named Tenbar who said he was looking to get some adventuring supplies.
* The guard explained that they only had the one adventuring store, and it… wasn't what people normally came to the town for. Though they had just missed the fishing festival! Festival of fish! Oh what a sight it was, there were fish lanterns and fish streamers and fish sales and fish face painting, they really had missed out! He was pretty sure they could still get some decent fish in town, and for quite a bargain too.
* Hungry as they were the adventurers were happy to hear this! They asked how long ago the fish festival was? He explained it was just last week! They asked if the fish for sale was.. you know… left over from the fish festival? He explained that yes, it was! They thanked him, and went into the town proper, to look at the… fish.
* Once in the town they followed Nestor's brochure to the adventuring store. Just as the guard said, it clearly did not see a lot of business. In fact it might have been the worst adventuring store in the country. To three fresh-faced adventurers, however, it was paradise! The place was dusty and smelled of mold, and ropes in various stages of disrepair hung from the ceiling. Tall folk had to watch their heads. Every display was heavily coated in a layer of grime.
* They bought a number of questionable rations (those that did have an expiration date had expired the year before, and many didn't even have a posted date), a lot of rope (which Arborius chose to wrap around himself like some sort of climber), chalk, torches, waterskins, a signaling kit, a grappling hook, all sorts of things. The clerk was surprised to get such business, and Tenbar was able to talk him into giving them all a discount as they were buying so much and “would be back to buy more.”
* Arborius decided he needed to have the best bedroll possible, and asked the clerk which one that would be. The clerk said he did have one stashed away upstairs, if Arborius was of discerning taste. Arborius said that yes, yes he was, and the clerk went to get the bedroll. It was a fine bedroll! It was dark purple with gold accents and unicorn designs, with a built in pillow. Arborius, being of a discerning taste, bought it right away.
* Tenbar asked the clerk if he knew of any adventure, in the area! Unfortunately the clerk did not, as not many people came his way. They asked what other services he would recommend in the town, and he pointed them down the road to the alchemists.
* Nobody knew what they were looking at when they got there, there were bottles everywhere and nothing was labeled. They saw other patrons looking at some red colored potions, and went to stand by them. A woman was holding a massive bottle, as if unsure if she wanted to purchase it. Arborius asked her about it, and she said that it seemed like maybe a bit much. He immediately wanted it and tried to talk her into the merrits of buying multiple SMALLER potions rather than one big one.
* Eventually they found a sign explaining the prices, and they each bought a health potion or two. The woman ended up buying the massive potion, and Arborius drowned his sorrow in some possibly silly purchases of bouncing potions (which made any surface springy) and sticking potions.
* Since Arborius seemed to be into potions, and was steadfastly refusing to put any of his rope away, Tenbar and Nestor went back to the adventuring store to buy him a bandoleer to carry the potions in and a backpack to hopefully get him to put his stuff in.
* The clerk was very happy to see them back! Tenbar pointed out that he HAD said they would be repeat customers. When the clerk went upstairs to see about a potion bandoleer, Tenbar had a look around the palce and noticed some interesting changes in the masonry in the wall— it looked like there was a secret door or some recent construction done to the place. He pointed this out to Nestor as possible ADVENTURE.
* After they purchased some more things from the adventuring store owner, Tenbar pointed out what he had seen. The clerk said he had a good eye, and that they had just been remodeling! He had decided to add an employee lounge of sorts, for the only employee. (Him).
* The group met back up at the alchemist shop and asked the clerk there if they had heard of any ADVENTURE. The clerk said they had not, but that a good place to check out for that sort of thing would probably be the tavern.
* Yes! Tenbar agreed and said that if nothing else they could get some ale! Excited dwarf! They went off to the tavern and started listening around for talk of ADVENTURE!
* Two people were talking about a haunted mansion, over at the bar. Arborius was dismayed to see it was the woman who bought the giant potion out from under him, but he and Tenbar went over there anyway to butt into the conversation.
* Nestor, meanwhile, had found some PRETTY INTERESTING FLYERS, that clearly led to something! The flyers were posted by someone seeking information about something; they were a little old, so he couldn't make out everything they said, but it clearly was a lead to ADVENTURE!
* Nestor brought the flyer over to his friends, and listened patiently while everyone talked about the haunted mansion. The man at the bar was saying that he had gotten all the way to the front door once, and very few people can say they've done that. (Very few people can say they've done that, because people never make it BACK from the front door).He was offering to take the woman up that way, to investigate the mansion.
* Our adventurers asked all sorts of questions. Apparently, loooong ago, an alchemist of some sort lived in that mansion, and got up to all sorts of dark magic. The house had been abandoned for years, and no one knew what had happened to the alchemist, he had just… disappeared. Brave souls would go up to the house to investigate and seek the MASSIVE TREASURE that was said to be there, but no one ever came back. The townsfolk all avoided the area. Dangers of the house included the overgrown garden, which was crawling with snakes, and of course the house itself was terribly haunted by all sorts of ghosts. On cold dark nights, you could just make out in the distance the howling screams coming from its boarded up doors.
* The party decided to go!!! At night!!!! Possibly a cold and dark one!!! The woman, whose name was Hildegard, was not completely ecstatic at adventuring with these oddballs, but agreed that they should go as a group, safety in numbers. They set up plans to meet the following night at the edge of town.
* Nestor, a bit late, brought up the flyer he found! Look! …Hildegard explained that it was an old posting from at least a year ago. Nestor was a little disappointed. Guess they would be going to a haunted mansion.
* This left our adventurers with quite a few hours to kill, and still with the pressing need to find a place to rest their heads. Nestor went off to visit the town's temple, to ask the clerics if they had any advice about haunted mansions. Tenbar and Arborius returned to the adventuring store to get a few more supplies, now that they knew specifically what kind of adventure they would be going on!
* Most importantly, given the snakes, they figured they needed a snake hook. Luckily, the clerk had quite a few! They picked the sturdiest, and one large enough to handle what could only be described as disturbingly large snakes.
* They also purchased comically overlarge garden shears, which the clerk said was named Vinesbane. It was a very pretty tool, with vines carved into the handles.
* After chatting about their discount, Arborius had a thought. Maybe they could do a little work around the shop, in exchange for room and board for the night!
* Arborius got a job wearing a sandwich board advertising the store, and went out into the streets to sing the shop's praises and try to drive business over there.
* Tenbar, being skilled with mason work, helped with some of the ongoing construction the shopkeep was behind on.
* While shouting and yelling and pointing wildly, Arborius ran into Nestor! He explained that they were getting jobs at the adventuring store in order to have a place to sleep, and that Nestor should get in on the action.
* Nestor went back over there and asked the clerk what sort of work he still needed doing? The clerk couldn't think of anything! Nestor asked, very politely, if maybe he needed a little cleaning up done? The clerk said he didn't think so! Nestor pointed out, very politely, that maybe just a little dusting and sweeping, would brighten up the place? The clerk asked if Nestor thought it was dusty? … and then hired Nestor to do some cleaning.
* After working an honest day's work, the party reconvened in the store's new employee lounge area, ate some bad rations, and settled into their bedrolls (except for Nestor, who took the couch).
* They worked the following day, up until the time for their adventure to begin! They met with Hildegard on the outskirts of town. The man from the bar joined them, and walked them up the steep hill, up to the haunted mansion. He took them around a back way, and though it hadn't been terribly cold and dark down in the village, up here it was very cold, and very dark, and very spooky.