p. The characters are in the Circus or traveling with the Circus for various reasons. They had just completed a show in Northbridge, near the edge of civilization. The famous Wizard, Alderus Redcloak, has been traveling around seeking recruits to participate in a tourney in the village of Thornby on Silver Snake River which is only a few days travel up the road from Northbridge.Thornby Area Map He asks the circus performers to compete. The tourney is being held to celebrate the wedding of of Caldmor’s daughter, . There are to be competitions between veteran adventurers as well as new adventurer tournaments. There will be prizes for the winners, and Alderus Redcloak has a real adventure quest for the winners of the beginning competitions in Archery, Fighting, Jousting, Horse Racing, Unarmed Combat, and tests of magic and agility. Agoth, the Elven wizard, notices the tatoo on Alderus’s forhead is a symbol for an order of wizards known as the Elder Masters of Arcana who seek forgotten mystic magic. Alderus also tells them that the Cleric order, Followers of the Spiral Path, will be visiting Thornby during the tourney and paying homage to the ancestors there as they continue north on their pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Ancient Ones at Northwell. So they will keep the tourney safe. Alderus also tells them that he, himself, will be there as well, and will be putting on a magical light show.
A number of circus people are interested and decide to go, including Ethran of Mordheim, a fighter; Andrinal Lightson, a Cleric; Johnal Elfharrow, a Ninja; Grigdash, a Half-orc Inquisitor; Agoth, the Elven wizard; Tobias Aldridge, a rogue; Beatrice White, an Oracle; Beatrice’s grandson, Thom White, an Aasimaar Paladin; Vendetta, a Half-Elf Witch; Douglan Stonecaller, a Dwarven Barbarian; Singe, an Ifrit Sorceror; Taven, a Hafling rogue; and the Winchester brothers, Sam, a Suli fighter; Dean, a barbarian, and Bobby, a Gnome inquisator.
p. As the group arrives in Thorby, they notice the north end of town is completely abandoned.
Rumors are circulating around the streets and taverns. They hear that Farmer Dan has seen goblins lurking near his farm and is worried about an attack, but no goblins have been seen in awhile. The rest of the townsfolk think this is a ridiculous idea because the goblins are no threat. They are completely disorganazed and have never attacked a town before.
They learn that Baron Bainbridge’s daughter, Allete, is marrying a local farm boy, Yorrick Cogley. It’s causing a big scandal and no one is happy about it, for one reason or another. When asking how the two met, they’re told that, Yorrik, Farmer Dan’s son, and Magnus Pearce, Farmer Eli’s son, saved her from Bandits on the road and she fell in love with Yorrick. Alderus’s family is from Thornby, and Yorrick is his nephew, so he is helping to put on a big fancy tourney to impress the Baron’s family.
p. They learn that there’s a dragon nest in the gatehouse on the north side of town that the town guard has not been able to do anything about. Villagers avoid that entire side of the village.
p. The farmers set up fruit stands to sell to the people coming to town for the tourney. Farmer Eli’s produce is small, scanty and rotting. Magnus tries to sell some to people, but everyone is buying from Yorrick at Farmer Dan’s cart which is overflowing with a bounty of large, ripe, flourishing produce. Magnus looks angry. After not selling any fruit, Farmer Eli, who is Farmer Dan’s neighbor, is packing up his family and leaving town because he is convinced that goblins are actually going to attack the town, although no one else believes that.
p. People are talking about the wizard, Marvis Chaosweaver, Alderus Redcloak and the cleric, Fergus the Impartial’s brother, playing his tricks on entire towns. They hear that he’s been around causing mischief lately.
p. While drinking at the Whirling Dervish Tavern, they see , Duncan Creakshank, who is grinning and winking at Beatrice, -Merchant of Relics, Phinneas Jarvis – Farmer, – Blacksmith, Old Jacob Crowley – Farmer, – Bard singing song about missing Goblin King who ruled a goblin empire, then about being in love with a farm boy who loves someone else, Farmer Dan Cogley, Yorrick Cogley – Farmer Dan’s son and engaged to Baron’s Daughter, Allette Bainbridge, Ephriam Cogley – Farmer Dan’s second son, the Northbridge Adventuring Party –Laurent Pember (Wizard), Basil Fleming (Ranger), Gregor Wolf (Bard), Jocassa Swann (Rogue), Frita Luitgard (Fighter). People in the tavern are placing bets on Wilhelm the Bald and the adventuring party from Northbride, who’ve been on a real adventure before, to win in the tourney events.
p. Drinking is inturrupted by commotion going on at the Redwood Inn. People are running out the front door, screaming about rats. The circus troupe runs over and opens the doors of the inn to see a huge room overrun with giant rats that is recessed into the floor. The rats are swarming out of the cellar, climbing on tables, swinging from the tapestries and chandelier. They help the town guards to kill dire rats, rat swarms and giant rats. After all the rats are killed the inn’s cellar is searched to see how the rats got in, but no way in is found. Food is scattered around from torn open containers that are too small for the rats to fit in. No other ways in, signs of magic or secret doors are found in the cellar. Gareth Carver, the owner, thinks Banthis, the other innkeep,
planted the rats.