Monthly Archives March 2017

Once more, with feeling

30th day of Trasakh

Having finished searching the hobgoblin quarters, we return to the store room and then quietly open the door on the other side.  It opens out into a chapel of some sort.  Three goblin priests are praying at an altar draped in black cloth, while two more watch out of arrow slits in the wall.  There are two curtained doorways on the right hand side.

Wanting to prevent the goblins from fleeing and raising the alarm, I am first to enter and run to the far doorway before the goblins can react.  The others block the other doorway, and the combat is short and bloody.  We examine the altar, and see three golden sacramental vessels on it.  It looks like this is the defiled shrine to Oghma!  I strip the black and bloody cloth off the altar, and keep the sacred ornaments.

Going through the curtains, we enter a high and ornately carved ante-chapel.  There is a font with a pile of charcoal in it – searching though it reveals ???something???.  However, our searching is interrupted when a strange beaked snake drops from the ceiling where it had been hiding.  The fight against this is hard work, and my blows don’t seem to have much effect, but in the end some mighty blows from Elaina finish it off.

Stealthily opening the far door, we see it opens out into the small courtyard we had previously observed from the secret door entrance.  We can see a single goblin dozing in there but are concerned there might be many more, so decide to lure it into the chapel to kill it subtly.  Garrett casts an illusion of a beckoning goblin and I try to imitate its voice to ask it to come and help me.  It wakes and comes over to us; we shut the door behind it and I dispatch it with a single blow.  We hear another goblin voice from the courtyard asking where it is though, so entice another goblin in and dispatch that as well.

Entering the courtyard, we peer through the curtain into the guardpost for the secret back door beyond.  There are only two goblins in there, so Garrett and I leap in on them and dispatch them before they can raise the alarm.  We then proceed to the king’s quarters, where we listen and hear various voices.  We decide to burst in, and confront a bugbear, a hobgoblin and a goblin – not the start of a bad dwarven joke but instead obviously the latest set of leaders.  The fight is again bloody, but we are getting good at honing our tactics with these humanoids now, attacking their weaknesses, so we quickly kill them, but not before sustaining significant damage ourselves.  We finish the last of our healing spells and are contemplating a rest, when there is a loud knocking at the door, and some hobgoblins demanding to know what is going on.  Our attempts to stall them and dismiss them fail, and they burst into the room.  There are four of them, and once again there is a bloody fight.  At the end of it, I am forced to drink my last two healing potions to get myself back into fighting form again.

We proceed through the curtain we never investigated before and find a hobgoblin barrack rather than the kitchen we expected.  Beyond this we find the room that they had obviously been keeping the owl bear in – on a fragment of floor high up we find some treasure.

At this point we are weary and bloodied but anxious to finish emptying the castle.  We decide to try and intimidate the remaining goblins, so gather up the heads of the chiefs we have just killed and take them with us.  The next room is a kitchen/refectory with a handful of goblins – we brandish the heads and tell them to leave and never return if they want to survive.  All of them do apart from the cook, and we rapidly reduce him to julienne strips.

Leaving the kitchen, we see that the main hall and gate has a number of goblins fleeing the castle – we do a final sweep and then rest on our swords, our labours here seemingly finished.  And all in time for the Greengrass festival as well.

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Exactly – that’s the last thing they will be expecting

30th day of Tarsakh

We deliberate on our next approach as we hike back to the cave to rest.  We decide that the disguise plan was a good one, it was just that I stuffed it up by resorting to violence too quickly.  I resist the urge to respond to the criticism by resorting to violence, and agree that we will try the plan again this evening.  This time, though, we decide that we will try the main gate.  My thoughts are that trying the secret entrance for a fourth time is so obvious that there is no way they could be expecting it, but I get voted down.  We decide that we need more intel though, so decide to ambush a patrol and capture a goblin to interrogate.

After resting, we scout around for a patrol and soon find one with two hobgoblins and four goblins.  We leap into action, in a slightly haphazard manner.  My first arrow goes seriously awry, and Garrett’s incantation only sends two of the goblins into a slumber.  We start to get our act together though, and reasonably rapidly dispatch the hobgoblins and one of the goblins.  The last goblin scarpers before we can catch him, using an unusual turn of speed.

We tie up the last two goblins and start asking them questions.  They are surprisingly co-operative, although maybe seeing the two dead hobgoblins and knowing of our reputation helps them.  In return for some food and their freedom they tell us that there are still lots of goblins, but relatively few hobgoblins and bugbears, and that there is no new authority figure to replace the king.  Black Spider is continuing to send them orders, but they are just mercenaries working for him.  They tell us that the main gate is guarded by sentries, but tell us the password.  They also warn us that after the main door there is a pit trap straight ahead, but the door to the north leads to the hobgoblins, and the door to the south to the goblins.  Pleased with this information we give them the coppers that we found on their dead comrades and tell them that they are free, but that if their information is wrong, we will hunt them down and kill them.

Having resting during the day, we return to Cragmaw Castle in disguise and with Garrett disguised as a captive.  He casts minor illusion to help our faces appear more hobgoblin-like.  We approach the main gate and are challenged for the password.  I return the phrase the goblins gave us, and we are let in – so far so good.  There is a brief exchange with the gate guards about our patrol, which I answer in a guttural snarl and then we proceed through the north door.

Beyond the north door, we find a storage chamber with spoilt food, which is obviously still being eaten.  We also find some bloodied chainmail and a sword, which we think might be Sildar’s, so we take it.  There is a door in the west wall, which we open.  Beyond is a barracks with four hobgoblins.  I start a conversation, mindful of the feedback from the rest of the party over the last attempt, and we find that there are very few of the hobgoblins left, very few bugbears, and that the owlbear was their secret weapon, which they are most annoyed that was released early.  We try to withdraw, but they are keen that we leave Garrett there, which doesn’t seem like a good idea.  The conversation continues in a desultory fashion (although they do mention that Black Spider lives in a cave), until the minor illusion wears off.  We see a look of confusion cross the faces of the hobgoblins, so we attack.  The fight is bloody, but we are victorious, although not before both Elaina and I take serious wounds from the hobgoblins, who seem to be hitting with much more vigour than before – they seem to have been training which is giving them some sort of martial advantage.  When the fight is over, we notice a cage of crows by the arrowslit – we surmise that this might be how Black Spider is communicating with the hobgoblins.  Maybe we can release one and follow it to see where it goes?  If only we had someone with a flying familiar…

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