After a defeat of the orcs at Wyrven Tor the group set out to return to Phandalin. They decided to stop by the Old Owl well. Daran's suspicions were proven as they neared the well.
There was a colorful pavilion erected and more astonishing it seemed to be guarded by zombies. Just as the heroes were about to engage the zombies a bald man in robes appeared. He called a stop to the fight. The players acquiesced and the zombies stopped their advance. The man was a Mage from the Nation of Severus and was doing archeological research.
He introduced himself as Hamun Kost and invited them in for tea. They discussed what he was doing there and the group were conflicted. The undead were under control but this was a necromancer. In the end they decided to err on the side of caution and leave him in peace.
Next they decided to try to deal with Agatha. It was on the way back and they were feeling plucky. Finding her hovel was easy enough. Only a couple of people could fit inside at once. Lume set the comb they had with them and called out to Agatha. The air grew cold and they saw the banshee. Through quick wit Lume asked to be granted the favor of a question. The Banshee agreed but said they could ask but a single question. The party agreed and asked "Where is Bowgentle's Spellbook?"
The Banshee answered their question. She did have it but centuires ago gave it to another mage. With that she started to leave. Lume turned to exit and Alister stayed a moment. Perhaps he was still riding the wave of success from Wyrven Tor. He pressed the Banshee for information on the Wave Echo Cave. She turned a baleful eye upon him and told him to leave. When he pressed again, she screamed. The spiritual power hurled people back. She made no effort to continue the attack. Babel had taken the worst of it. Probably due to his spiritual awareness. They dragged him out of the clearing, retreating from the Banshee's lair.
When they made it back to Phandalin they discovered a body of a young man nailed to a tree. He had a sign hung around his neck, "He didn't pay his tax" was scrawled our in blood. Obvious work of the Redbrands. The entire town seemed to labor under a cloud.
Sister Gareale told the party at the inn that the youth was an adventurer who stood up to the Redbrands tax. The party looked at each other. They knew what they had to do.
They spoke with Daran Edermath about the issues. He spoke to them of the concerns he had. Through much convincing they got him to agree to join them on the assault against the Redbrands.