Every one of our side-stories has started out totally different.

The paladin Akordia’s was no different.

In a number of ways, we were retreading familiar ground. The Paladin wanted to recruit directly from an academy for arcane study we had established some three or four games prior. You can read about it on my blog: Escape From White Cliff.

Sadly, I wasn’t the one to conclude that adventure. The end, while personally unsatisfying, left a PC of mine in charge of the academy as headmaster with the school still largely intact. And my PCs are good at administrating things.

Whether my wizard Allandra was anticipating Akordia’s arrival or not, she had a list prepared — for the next adventurer to come a-calling — “undesirables” on academic probation who might learn better in the field than in the classroom.

When the Paladin arrived, she asked to see the headmaster. Sarah, a student librarian, led the way. Wizard, a Reggie, tagged along for kicks. The Headmaster Allandra provided her list to Akordia and expressed her condolences for the (still relatively recent) loss of the Raven Queen’s temple in Gloomwrought.

The Paladin requested additional help, but the Headmaster dodged questions and waved her off. Sarah and Wizard were both on “the list,” as were a few other characters who’d been milling around the campus courtyard.

Included on the list were Melf the archivist (cleric of the knowledge domain), a self-professed descendant of a Certain Wizard of the Same Name, Limerick the tiefling bard, and Pock the gnome trickster.

This has been the most colorful round of recruits to date.

Once the team was assembled, they set out for Fallcrest. On the road, they were approached by a black dragon wyrmling who growled at them in its own language.

‘He wants gold,’ per the group’s resident Draconian-speakers.

The group engaged and defeated the monster. Quite handily, in fact.

A while on, the group came across some ragged-looking men who offered to escort them to Fallcrest at no charge. Despite the apparent friendly demeanor of the men, the group rejected the offer and suggested a tour group from the academy might be in greater need. The encounter ended amiably.

Then the group was engaged by an adult black dragon, who claimed to be “new” to the surrounding area. It landed to interrogate the group. The Warlock (Sarah) appealed to the dragon’s vanity by sketching the creature.

Wizard (the Reggie), offered to provide the dragon all it sought in exchange for a lift to Fallcrest. The dragon reluctantly agreed, but refused to carry the others.

In the final encounter of the evening, the group found slavers leading a gang of gnomes in shackles. Pock (the Rogue, a gnome herself) took pity on the slaves and attacked the slavers with a sneak-attack-empowered crossbow bolt in the back.

At first, the group tried to convince the slavers to release their captives, but the slavers argued that slaving was a legitimate business and refused. So, battle was joined, and the Paladin subdued most of the slavers.

The party freed the slaves, provided them with daggers, and then turned them loose on the slavers. The former slaves savagely attacked the helpless slavers, stabbing them to death. And then some. Justice?