Originally, the Cleric Vardis was a powerful adventurer, who traveled the world righting wrongs in the name of his god, Pelor. Nearing the end of his long life, he called forth a team of heroes from many lands. Many responded, but only three actually mustered the effort to make it all the way to his manor in Stoneport: Balkaran, Riz Xepiroth, and Kiroku. The rest went home as soon as they realized it would be dangerous; they had no love of excitement and a powerful fear of danger nested within their hearts.
Upon entering Vardis’s manor, they met Vardis, his wife the Lady Vardis, the butler Taldore, and his nephew Gretan, the group was ushered in and they shared a long and awkward meal, during which Vardis complained that his maid, Lamal, was taking an awfully long time to return from town. Riz noticed some dirt on Taldore’s collar and overheard Gretan whispering to Taldore about “not in it to kill anyone,” but chose to keep these things to himself. They had bigger things about which they were concerned, like how much they were to be paid and how strong the alcohol was.
Vardis explained to the group that, though his rituals had told him who to summon, he was unsure that he had performed the rituals correctly. As such, he wanted the trio to go out into town and perform various minor missions to prove their might. He also took them for a tour of his manor, and Riz noticed that the garden contained a mound of freshly moved dirt. He chose to keep this to himself as well.
After dinner, Kiroku met with Lady Vardis in the bath and they shared an even more awkward encounter together, from which Kiroku inferred that there wasn’t a lot of love in the Vardis household.
Wisely letting the mystery of the maid and butler percolate for a bit, the group headed to town and performed the errands they were asked to perform.
They were called upon by a farmer to remove a senile old man from his chicken coop. Balkaran smashed the coop down with his shield arm, causing the old man to collapse in cardiac arrest. Kiroku revived him with CPR, and they hauled his barely-conscious body to his wife. They were given meager compensation for their efforts, as the old man was barely alive and the chicken coop was destroyed.
They retrieved a thug named Bromis from his girlfriend’s house without much of a fight and turned him in to the local authorities.
They tracked and fought a mage’s apprentice who had been experimenting with creating an army of sheep-men to do his bidding. After Kiroku entangled him with a domain spell, Riz fired a flaming arrow and immolated the mage, killing him.
They tracked and found a bandit named Kolaret the Donkey Slayer, who was celebrating the murder of several donkeys in the forest with his friends in a local forest. Balkaran staggered drunkenly into the clearing, greataxe in one hand and flagon of ale in the other, declaring that he was also a bandit. The bandits were just drunk enough to believe him, and raised their own flagons in a toast to their new old friend. Balkaran took advantage of the way the Donkey Slayer’s head was tipped back to chop off his head with the axe, and Kiroku and Riz made short work of the remaining bandits. One attempted to flee, but Riz got a lucky shot into the back of the man’s neck and killed him with a single arrow.
They also found a necklace which had been lost in the sewer. It was hanging out of a drain pipe and they just reached down and got it.
After performing these various tasks, Vardis, now on his deathbed, told the trio of their true purpose: he wished for them to retrieve the three pieces of a legendary spyglass, an artifact of great power which he wished to see destroyed. The trio agreed to help so long as the price was right.
Seeing that Vardis was dying, Kiroku determined that he was being poisoned. The group interrogated Taldore and discovered that he had been steadily poisoning both Vardis and his wife, though the wife was not showing any signs of illness for reasons that the trio simply did not care enough to investigate. So they didn’t.
They also found that the mound of dirt in the garden contained the corpse of Lamal, and they had Taldore arrested for her murder. Gretan also confessed that he was in league with Taldore and was not Vardis’s real nephew; he was merely a conman. The dastardly duo arrested, the group left town for the first piece of the spyglass, leaving Vardis and his wife the sole occupants of their manor.
Kiroku also cured Vardis of the poison while he was at it.