The six travelers arrive in Armin’s Rest in the late afternoon while the sun is still warm and bright. The first to arrive, an elven Ranger named Erimil finds his way to the inn to secure lodging, and with that accomplished, settles down at a table to rest and wash the down the road dust with a pint of ale. While he drinks, he takes note that the tavern seems unusually busy for the time of day, packed nearly to capacity and abuzz with excited conversation. He turns his keen ears toward the droning chatter and begins to listen in. He quickly learns that everyone in the tavern seems intensely preoccupied with a pendant that he/she purchased earlier in the day from a peddler who arrived in town around midday. This peddler had never been seen in Armin’s Rest before today, and was gone almost as quickly as he had arrived, moving along as soon as he had sold one of his pendants to everyone in town. While he sits and listens more and more townsfolk stream into the tavern.
A short time later, a small band of travelers heading south on the Trade Road tops a small hill to see ahead of them a turnoff, where a signpost advises passersby that “To the east lieth the hamlet of Armin’s Rest.” Standing at the crossroad, talking comfortably, are a small gnome Sorceress and what appears to be dwarven Barbarian of unusual appearance. As the band of travelers draws near the two ladies, the lead figure, a cleric by his garb, calls out in a commanding, yet amiable voice, “Well met travelers! Pelor greets you this fine day, let us praise him for his gift of the life-giving sun! Are you on your way to Armin’s Rest?” Before the women can respond, he continues, “We shall accompany you, and by my presence you shall be granted Pelor’s grace and protection!” The Sorceress and the Barbarian look stunned for a moment, then a look of quiet bemusement passes over the gnome’s face, while the dwarf begins to scowl and glare. Without stopping to see if he would be followed, the Clerics turns east and starts down the loosely cobbled road toward Armin’s Rest. Still scowling, the dwarf allows her gaze to follow the Cleric as he passes wordlessly. Two other humans who accompany the Cleric slow down to speak briefly. Both are handsome, the taller, more muscular one with the artificial leg exudes a quiet demeanor but his rugged looks and ready posture identify him as a Fighter, trained for war and skilled in battle. The other, just a touch shorter, yet still towering over the two ladies, carries himself with grace and elegance, adorned in finery that would seem pompous on another. His winsome features and mane of red hair, expertly groomed, stand ready to capture the hearts and imaginations of the fairer sex. The lute he wears slung across his back can only mean that he is a Bard.
The red-haired Bard steps forward and offers a courteous bow, and with a flourish, announces, “Miladies! Good day to you both, Wandering Wade, at your disposal”, before straightening again. “Allow me to apologize for my friend. Dylan has some peculiar ways, but a heart of gold, I assure you.” Gesturing to the Fighter, he continues, “And let me also introduce Hektor, another good friend of mine. He isn’t much for words, but a better ally could scarcely be had for any price. As skilled with a blade as any, and doubly handsome to boot!” Then he leans closer and whispers behind the back of his hand, “Don’t let the wooden leg fool you!” With a wink drops the hand and stands upright again. “We are honored to make your acquaintance, and would be privileged to accompany you into town.”
The gnome, now fully smiling, curtsies and offers her hand to the bard, “Myxi. Myxi Bodwin, sorceress. How lovely to meet you sir Bard.” Wandering Wade takes the offered hand and gently kisses the back of it before releasing it with a nod of his head. Wade looks expectantly to the dwarf, who by now is no longer scowling, but shows no indication of reproducing either the curtsy or the offer of her hand. "My name is Dolvira Ungart, she states simply. Turning her head back in the direction of the Cleric, she mutters under her breath and shakes her head slowly. “Pelor indeed!” she blurts out, then turns to the gnome. “I will allow these humans to accompany me into town, will you come along?” Myxi, still smiling, titters a small laugh and says, “I don’t see the harm.” With that, the humans jog a bit to catch up with Dylan, while the smaller folk follow slightly behind, gradually moving into close formation.
The walk into town is pleasant. The group chats comfortably, sharing stories of their travels and their lives before leaving home. Dylan speaks little but periodically remarks with zeal about the beauty of the nature around them and how all respect and admiration is due Pelor, without whose warm sunshine none of this would be possible.
Eventually the woods that surround the road begin to grow sparse, fading away to a large clearing dominated by a large manor, and a large sign marking the entrance to the town proper. Passing the sign and manor the party is able to see the towns market a short distance to the northeast of the manor. The road continues east and forks toward the market and, on the opposite side, another large building bearing all the telltale signs of a well-kept and oft-patronized inn and tavern. Something strikes the party as odd when they notice that the market stalls are all unattended and the streets are mostly empty, save for a few groups of people loitering in the streets, milling idly and chatting; almost as if the town were in the midst of celebrating some local holy day. As they pass unnoticed by some townsfolk, the party catches part of the conversation; specifically the words “peddler” and “pendant” seem to feature prominently. They begin to then notice that everyone nearby is indeed wearing a small metal pendant somewhere on their person. Approaching a nearby citizen, Dylan announces his presence to the man in his typical fashion, and inquires about the “pendant” that everyone seems to be talking about. The man happily obliges to allow Dylan to look more closely, holding the pendant up for examination. Dolvira’s attention is drawn to the metal object on the leather cord around this fellow’s neck, and reaches out to grasp the pendant, exclaiming, “Can I see that?!” The man recoils in horror, pulling the pendant close to his breast in a very protective manner. He recovers promptly, the enthusiastic smiling returning to his face almost at once. Inquiring further, the party learns of the peddler who was in town early this day, selling these pendants to everyone in town for a paltry sum of 5 cp. Everyone is believed to have bought one, and the peddler since moved on. They discover that although inexpensive, the pendants are indeed precious to their owners, and they will be hard pressed to convince anyone to hand one over. In addition they are advised that there is a gentleman named Cort, who can be found in the inn, and is believed to possess some number of pendants in addition to his own, and may be willing to part with one. Thanking the gentleman and wishing him the joy of Pelor, the party heads for the tavern.
Upon entering the tavern, it becomes clear why the town seems so empty, the place appears to be hosting a large percentage of the towns populace within its common room. The tavern is full to bursting with townsfolk chatting happily, drinking and discussing, with the same excited zeal as their counterparts outside, the peddler and the amazing pendants he supplied them. Never one to let an opportunity escape, Wandering Wade finds a suitable location to set up for a performance. He then pulls a shiny silver bell from his pack and begins to ring it loudly to capture the attention of the would-be audience. All around the room, heads turn toward the sound of the bell, however the attention of the patrons is only momentarily diverted; they quickly resume their endless discussion of the merits of their treasured pendants. One face however, does remain fixed and attentive, it is the Ranger, Erimil. He invites the Bard to perform, and finding it satisfactory, he compensate Wade with a few silver coins. His audience depleted, Wade decides to join Erimil for a drink or two at the bar.
The rest of the party makes their way around the chaos of the room inquiring and listening, hearing over and over about the wonderful pendants. Frustrated, Dylan approaches a random citizen, and invoking the authority of Pelor, commands the man to remove his pendant and hand it over. The man is notably conflicted by this but in the end yields the pendant to Dylan for inspection. Stripped of his prize, the man’s demeanor changes drastically. The exuberant happiness that infects all of the others drains from him and he adopts a confused and uncomprehending look. Shaking his head as if to clear some mental fog, the man finds a seat and sits quietly, engaging in no conversation, merely looking around the room as though seeking the elusive answer to some unheard question. Dylan instructs Hektor to keep an eye on him and brings the pendant to the bar where he can examine it closely. His bond with Pelor is already telling him that this pendant possesses powers. Turning it over in his hands and looking at the symbol carved into the satiny gray metal, Dylan again calls upon Pelor to reveal to him any items of power nearby. Pelor grants his request and allows Dylan to see that all around him, each and every pendant is imbued with power. Pelor does not at this time grant Dylan any knowledge of the nature of the power in the pendants.
Meanwhile, Wade and Erimil have observed the change in the man who gave up his pendant and decide to talk with him. They ask him for any additional information about the pendants or the peddler who sold them. Sadly, the man is unable to remember anything about the pendants at all and remains extremely confused by the events surrounding him. Suddenly realizing that the day has nearly slipped by without him being aware, he decides to return home. Myxi and Dylan follow the gentleman home, to observe his behavior. He enters the small house and shuts the door behind him. The two adventurers peek through the window to see the man slowly carrying on in a seemingly routine fashion, preparing to retire for the evening, shaking his head occasionally as though his thoughts are still not fully clear.
Wade, Erimil, Dylan and Myxi make their way to the manor house to inform the lord of what is happening within his city. After knocking on the great oaken door, a servant opens up but does not grant the outsiders entrance to the manor. Dylan convinces the servant that the party needs to see the lord of the manor urgently on a matter of life and death. The servant concedes to fetch the lord. He retreats into the house and returns a few moments later with the lord attending. The lord is, of course wearing a pendant and is as eagerly adoring of it as the rest of the townsfolk. Dylan does his best to persuade the lord that there is a problem in the town but Lord Holdt is not as easily convinced. Invoking Pelor’s authority again, Dylan commands the lord to remove the pendant from his neck. After a significant internal struggle Lord Holdt finally complies, dropping the pendant to the ground at his feet. Now out of the pendants influence, the lord is confused and angry that this group of outsiders is at his home making such ridiculous claims. He demands that the group identify themselves, and is unimpressed when Dylan makes himself out as a servant of Pelor. Hoping to prove their story is true Dylan suggests that Lord Holdt put the pendant back on. Humoring Dylan’s request, Holdt slips the cord back over his head and immediately reassumes his prior demeanor of zealous worship of the object. Worse, Lord Holdt seems to have no recollection of the party or the conversation they just had. Eager to get back inside, Holdt excuses himself, explaining that he is entertaining and must return to his guests before he is missed. It is then suggested by Emiril that his lordship might have need of the services of a Bard for the evening. Wade steps forward, introducing himself, and Lord Holdt immediately invites them all in, ecstatically ushering Wade into the sitting room where the guests are seated. Myxi leaves to retrieve Hektor and Dolvira from the tavern with the lord’s blessing. Wade puts on a satisfactory performance lasting better than 2 hours, and when he is finished, night has fallen and the guests begin to make their way home. Holdt invites the party to remain as his guests overnight, which they happily accept. Erimil quickly returns to the inn to retrieve his belongings from the room which while already paid for will go unused. The party is shown to six individual bed chambers where they prepare to sleep out the night and resolve to, in the morning, resume their attempts to save the town from whatever ill effects the pendants have in store for them.
As the party settles in to sleep, Myxi is too troubled to rest, so she keeps watch out the window at the head of her immense bed. From her window she is able to see into the courtyard, and if she cranes her head far enough she can just make out the edge of the main entry door. She spends several hours intently scanning every visible inch of the dimly lit area. A massive oak stands in the center and the moonlight casts wild darting shadows as it filters through the crown of leaves gently swaying in the night breeze. Eventually she begins to grow drowsy, but keeps herself awake through sheer force of will. As the ornate clock on the mantel quietly begins to chime midnight, she suddenly becomes aware of a sound, something like a low groan from the far end of the house, shequickly runs to Dolvira’s room to tell her what she had heard. Dolvira decides to try to wake up Hektor, and the noise of her banging on Hektor’s door wakes Wade and Erimil as well. Together they carefully listen for any further noises but hear nothing. The group quietly checks door knobs to find all chamber doors unlocked, and upon peering in they see forms in the beds. As nothing seems to be truly amiss, they decide to return to bed and investigate further in the morning.