Our heroes introduce themselves, one by one, to the dark commons of the Skullhoney Waystation and its (well, duh) humongous skull; Serif Sanscomic, the halfling bard with the familiar face and hammered dulcimer; Odiree Quettory, a halfling cleric, wide-eyed and fresh off the farm; and the Nameless One, a halfelf monk looking for both the passage of trade and a hot cuppa. Waiting for them in the commons, besides a grumpy old caretaker and some muted young women, was Stockhausen Grey, dressed in chain armor and man-spreading his weapons on available couch seating. Timed with the (finally) arrival of the food was a short, portly, fancy man who went by Pace, who ushered the group upstairs to an awaiting room and awaiting company; a seated man in dark robes who went by Magnus, and a tall, oafish woodsman who went by Angus.
Pace, seemingly in a hurry, rushed the group to his elaborate, well-built coach, and took off toward the south to a location heretofore kept secret from the group. A secret that was kept forever, perhaps, as Pace was killed in an ambush two hours out by a group consisting of gnolls(cruel), kobolds(annoying), and men in black robes. The group continued on to the next town…
…and immediately lie to the rag-tag gate guards about being performers in something called the "Eastfire Festival". As they get settled in at the Pasty Pie, Serif digs in a bit deeper, claiming to me a "masker" in the festivities, picking out the ugliest mask on the lot during her and Stockhausen's late-night stroll around the market. The morning finds them at the town's namesake, The Bellows, having rabbit and radlers for breakfast(but not before a rousing game of something the kids call "Mr. Toad and the Short Forest Giants").
Their breakfast was somewhat interrupted by the curiosity of two tinker gnomes, and the group(minus Magnus who, apparently, sleeps during the day?) follow them to a shady little hut of a tavern called The Black Fleece. There's some sort of huge black pelt on the ceiling, but before our heroes can say "hey I thought 'fleece' referred to sheep's wool" a stout beast outfitted with a fighting weapon on its fist bursts through the west wall, accompanied by a couple of half-elves, in black like the road bandits. With three more blackrobes guarding the door, a melee ensues; Angus and the Nameless One already outside attacking the spellcasters and Stockhausen taking on the ones at the door. In the ensuing fight, the gnomes(now five in total) seem to disappear, but their fish-out-of-water drinking companion, Marion Highgarden, hides in panic behind one of the tables before frantically looking for… a lemon. Angus is mortally wounded, but our heroes dispatch the villains with enough time for Odiree to bring Angus back from the brink of death(and for Marion to run out and, with a fancy flourish on a familiar spell, douse the beast's body in a wave of acid).
Stockhausen, after our heroes reassemble, found the secret to the gnome's disappearing act; an underground tunnel. It's exit being locked, the group does its best to follow the tunnel above ground… to a small house outfitted with the garish decoration, and the lock-and-key-hardware, of their late companion, Pace. There's no sign of the tunnel from Th Black Fleece, but there is a very similar tunnel in plain sight, and it leads,secretly, to the other side of The Bellow's city walls.
[your group learned quite a few secrets that I'm leaving out of here, but feel free to add them to the forums!]