Five Guys Wandering Around Dungeons

The Parting of the Ways
Part 14

After conferring with the leader of the town, Toviyaah, Galdor, and Bufkin decided to send the townspeople north to the city of Crimmor, which was much nearer than Athkatla, where they might be safer than in the partially destroyed Oakhurst. Escorting them to the city would go the remaining men from the four companies. Leading the company would be the Silverhands, headed by Hugo Westfeld, as appointed by Bufkin, for his capabilities both on and off the battlefield. Heading south according to the map found in Belek’s house went Bufkin, Galdor, and Toviyaah accompanied by what remained of the rabble. Between the battle and the ensuing deserters, only a handful of the ruffians remained but not trusting them to protect the lives of others, and counting the additional swords useful, those that remained would go south in pursuit of their promised payment.
As they were setting off, Bufkin saw a scared looking youth among the crowd of townspeople. Approaching the boy, Bufkin saw that he had no parents or family around him. He asked the boy where his family was and if there was anyone to look after him. Replying with the sweetest, most innocent voice the world had every heard, the boy introduced himself as Small Peter and told Bufkin that he had no family and was travelling alone. Taking pity on Small Peter, Bufkin gave him decorative chain mail shirt that he had commissioned in Athkatla. He assured Small Peter that the shirt would keep him safe and that he should look after it until they met again in Crimmor. With a cry of thanks, Small Peter put the shirt on under his jacket and with that, the company departed. And he turned to go, Bufkin could hear the delicate tones of Small Peter’s musical voice on the wind and he was happy. (Louis and Xander, you will be blessed to hear the voice of Small Peter, ere your luck is ever so good that he reappears in our story)
After a few hours of travelling the companions entered into the woods to find the area Belek had designated on his map. At this point, less than a dozen criminals remained from the original gathering of over 500, and they followed the trio with determination. As they neared the mark, they spread out and continued with caution, alert for anything that may have been significant to the disgraced magician. Thus it came to be that they found a an opening into the ground, a deep schism into the heart of the earth, hidden by tall grass and marked by a rope leading down into the darkness. Being the greatest at seeing things in the dark, Toviyaah took up the rope and went first. Next followed Bufkin, the troupe of criminals, and finally Galdor in the back keeping an eye on the men in front of him. What they found was a small landing followed by a series of switchbacks that lead down and out of site. Pressing forward and lighting a few torches, the party continued until finally the ground leveled out and widened into an underground road. Following it they came upon what appeared to be the subterranean tower of an old building. A solid, round parapet arched out of the darkness topped with crumbling crenellations, which the party noticed, was leaning slightly to the side. Rounding the off-kilter structure, they saw what could have been a long rampart in the days when it was new, but now led away into nothingness, crumbling to dirt where it met the earth. Judging by the foreboding air of a mysterious underground castle that was clearly suited for hidden, villainous deeds, the party judged that they had reached their destination. Rounding on the wooden door, they secured their weapons, held aloft their torches, and entered.

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Oakhurst: The Second Night
Part 13

While the army set about securing the town, one major question still remained: what of Belek? The adventurers learned from the town leader that Belek had a house on the edge of town but that he had not been seen in recent days. After pointing them in the right direction, the town leader returned to Oakhurst to marshal it’s people. Carefully, the companions surveyed the house. From the outside it appeared perfectly normal, with the exception of any signs of life. Confident that there were not active traps, the companions entered. The interior of the house was quiet and relatively quiet. Finding nothing of importance on the first floor, the trio ascended the stairs and began searching the rooms on the upper level. Behind one of the doors they found the only room that looked like it had been recently used. In the center of the room was a pedestal with what looked like blood, a knife, and a candle. Scattered around were some papers, books, and other tools that were common among magicians. Unfortunately, none of the material left behind gave them any clue as to what Belek was doing or where he had gone. They were just about to leave when they spotted a map with handmade markings on it. One glance at the map and Bufkin was able to immediately recognize the country of Amn and the cities within. It appeared that Belek had marked several locations using a variety of notations, one of which corresponded to a place north of Rustwater, another located just south of Oakhurst in the woods, a third on the city of Esmelteran, and a fourth in the middle of Lake Esmel. Taking the map with them, the three companions left the house and joined the people working in the town.
Later in the afternoon the defenses were nearly complete and they can be described thusly. As it has been mentioned, the green space was shaped like a large triangle with the apex pointing directly north and the bottom side bordering the south. In the center stood a tall wooden pole around which the townspeople made camp surrounded by a series of trenches. Wooden boards, barrels, wagons, and other unused items had blocked the gaps between houses along the eastern and western edges of the green space, funneling any potential attackers into the gap at the northern point, or along the southern edge. Fearing an attack from the north, Bufkin had some of the Sunset Company burry a few extra powder kegs and run fuses to the center of the space in the event they were overwhelmed and needed to blow things sky high. On roofs to either side of the opening, Bufkin stationed Silverhand archers while a small squad of Sunset Company and Silverhand fighters protected the ground. The bulk of the force was concentrated along the southern edge of the town where they were the most vulnerable. Again, trenches had been dug and filled with wooden spikes behind which Sunset Company and the golem waited in firing lines. At the two southern corners were the Merchant Kings and Cloud Peaks, swords and spears drawn ready for whatever reached them. As the leaders of the battle, the three companions each took a corner to command: Bufkin took the north, Toviyaah the southwest, and Galdor the southeast. All that was left now was to wait.
The sun was set, fires were lit, and the evening vigil had begun. Suddenly, from the deep of night they began to hear drums in the south. A host of goblins and trolls was marching towards them, not in a chaotic mass, but in formation. And in the very back, commanding their advance, stood three figures cloaked in black.
Bufkin called for a check of their perimeter. To the south the invading host was slowly approaching. No activity had been sighted to the east nor west, and to the north only a few goblins had been sighted, although they were remaining at a distance and Bufkin only wasted a few arrows killing one before he accepted them as a distraction. To the south the formation of goblins and trolls stopped just outside of range. The air was crackling with anticipation as the two armies faced each other. In the midst of the calm, Toviyaah cast a spell on the top of the wooden pole, bathing the green space in light. Under its gaze the gnomes cocked their rifles, the archers knocked arrows, and the infantry drew swords. For a moment the world was still.
Then, without word or command, the goblins attacked. Rifles cracked and arrows flew as goblins were cut down in their advance, a mere test of the defenses. Then a push, and the invading forces came in an even greater mass, too many for the ranged weapons to suppress. They poured into the trenches, some skewering themselves on the stakes below while others made it through and were met by the infantry. As the fighting escalated, trolls began advancing on the corners. In one corner Toviyaah combated a pair of trolls, launching spells from afar. His magic proved strong enough to bring down one of his foes, however the second remained and answered by casting its own magic. Caught off guard, Toviyaah drew his bastard sword and met the brute on the field of battle. The ensuing fight was furious and exhausting but in the end, Toviyaah stood victorious. Across the way the golem answered the trolls roars with the thunder of his cannon. In two echoing shots the golem smote the massive beasts from this earth forever, while the golem, unfazed, stoically reloaded.
Confident that the battle was going to remain in the south, Bufkin dispatched the Sunset Company still with him to help their companions. Of the Silverhands that remained, he left a small number to act as guards while the rest he took with himself to the corner to fight alongside Galdor. The dead were accumulating and yet the goblins continued to come. Galdor was dispatching goblin after goblin, his fists a blur of activity while the pile of the dead rose around him. As Bufkin arrived, so did a new wave of trolls. Seized by a lust for adventure, Bufkin called for the golem and told him to wait for his order to shoot. The golem stared back blackly. And with that Bufkin leaped over the trenches and into the way of the advancing trolls. Drawing his sword, Bufkin slashed at the Achilles. The beast let out a horrific yell and fell to its knees. Before it could heal and strike back, Bufkin dove and yelled for the golem. The world exploded and where the troll had previously stood above Bufkin, there was nothing but night sky. Emboldened by his success, Bufkin advanced on the second troll. With another slash and earth-shattering boom, the second troll was wiped from history. But Bufkin had pursued too far and was now surrounded by enemies. As furious as he was, Bufkin went down behind enemy lines. Accepting the end of his life, Bufkin called for the others to leave him and protect the townspeople. But as it turns out, gambling, drinking, and whoring with the Silverhands had made him some loyal friends. Breaking away from the trenches, a few Silverhands grabbed Bufkin and returned him to safety where he was stabilized by Galdor and subsequently able to heal himself.
Blades flashed in the magical light, muscles burned in exhaustion, and sweat and blood saturated the ground. After what seemed like eternity, the goblins had finally taken enough losses and the retreat was called. Even though the defenders had taken some serious losses, the defenses held and the townspeople remained safe. Some of the uninjured warriors were posted along the perimeter in order to watch for any additional attacks, while the rest began collecting the bodies of their comrades according to their guilds and prepared for final rights. Those that were injured were treated by the townspeople with help from the three companions and collected near the center for rest. Amidst the activity the golem watched passively, peppered with arrows but holding his cannon at the ready. As Toviyaah’s spell ceased the camp was once again cast into twilight, the only light coming from torches. Thus, the rest of the night passed in labor with little rest, and by morning the entirety of the gathering was past ready to leave the battlefield behind.

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Oakhurst: The First Night
Part 12

The hill was defended thusly: stakes were driven into the ground facing the woods to the west. Behind the stakes the Sunset Company was divided into two firing lines to allow for near continuous shots. On one side of the line the Merchant Kings used their spears to protect the flank, while on the other the Cloud Peaks would engage any enemy that tried to get around, or somehow was able to miss the raining lead. Finally, the Silverhands were held in reserve to fire arrows from the back, be dispatched where necessary, and to watch in the event that the goblins attempted to attack from behind. Amidst all of this, the silent hulking golem roamed wielding his massive cannon, ordered to release carnage whenever the opportunity presented itself.
That night, men slept at their station in rotations until either the sun arrived or they were called to arms. There was no need to wait for the sun, however, because just as the leader of Oakhurst said the goblins came in the middle of the night. Drawn by the appearance of such a large resistance, the goblins did not emerge from the woods in discrete groups, but as a large body of screeching attackers. Prepared and reasonably well fortified, Bufkin ordered Sunset to unleash their blunderbusses. Explosions rent the night and clouds of smoke rose to the sky as countless goblins were massacred before such a powerful defense. Every once in awhile the golem would unleash hell from his arms, shaking the ground and turning large groups of attackers into eviscerated piles of trash. Few goblins made it through that night, and those that did were quickly dealt with by the awaiting steel. By the time the goblins had had enough, the hillside was strewn with the detritus of countless numbers of their allies. Recognizing defeat, whatever was left of the attacking hoard retreated to the woods to lick their wounds and prepare for another day.
Back at camp, the companies had suffered minimal losses and a few injuries. As dawn broke Bufkin ordered the wounded to be treated and the dead to be removed from the circumference of their camp. Those few that died in defense of the hill were given funeral rights and burned, while the goblins were piled haphazardly and set ablaze. By mid-morning the majority of the work had been accomplished and allies were spotted approaching.
In the face of several large obstacles, Toviyaah had somehow succeeded in bringing the majority of his rabble to Oakhurst safely. Without food, Toviyaah had stopped several times to allow his men to forage and hunt. Without pack rolls or supplies, they had camped on the ground under the stars. And although some got fed up and deserted each day, the larger part of the party that left Athkatla made it to Oakhurst. Hungry and a little sore, Toviyaah reached the outskirts of the battle and instructed his men to make camp while he went to find his companions. Many of the men took advantage of the discarded supplies and traded their makeshift weapons for the steel of the dead goblins. Toviyaah, Galdor, and Bufkin met at the top of the hill where they began to discuss the previous days while they waited for the town leader to arrive. Toviyaah learned of the battle and danger that the town lived with, while Bufkin and Galdor marveled that the conglomerate of thieves, sell-swords, and petty criminals had not only failed to kill each other, but had survived the trek as a unit (although they still did not invite them to camp together).
With a jolly huff and puff, the town leader appeared and the four men began to discuss the future. It was agreed that another attack was imminent and with the escalation of hostilities it was likely the townspeople would now be in grave danger. Therefore the adventurers would move into the town and begin fortifying defenses with the help of the townspeople for the coming night. It happened to be that by the southern edge of town there was a large triangular green space used for town gatherings. After assessing the size, the adventurers believed that they could funnel attackers into two areas: the northern point and the southern edge of the triangle. The townspeople would be gathered in the middle of the green space around a central pole and the fighting companies would defend the surrounding area. With any luck, by nightfall the town would be secure and the townspeople would be protected.

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The March to Oakhurst
Part 11

The next morning there was an air of excitement amongst the adventurers. The guilds had pledged their support and if they remained true to their word, a small army would be waiting for them outside the north gate to the city. After checking their gear and getting breakfast, they set out to see what or who awaited them. Closest to the gate were the Silverhands, made up of medium infantry under the flag of their sign. Next was a group of very smartly adorned gnomes, each carrying a blunderbuss and backed by a huge golem carrying what appeared to be a small cannon. Situated a little further away were the Merchant Kings, carrying spears and accompanied by a scribe, and the Cloud Peaks Company, outfitted similarly to the Silverhands.
Bufkin and Galdor decided to take their leave and march quickly to Oakhurst. Under Bufkin’s command went the Silverhands and Sunset Company. With Galdor went the Merchant Kings, the scribe, and the Cloud Peaks. No doubt useless in battle, the scribe informed Galdor that he was there to ensure the interests of the Merchant Kings were being followed. That left Toviyaah to try to organize and lead the group of miscreants on a muli-day march to Oakhurst. To Toviyaah’s dismay, most of the men under his “command” were not outfitted for a full days march, let alone several days. Very few of them had a change of clothes or a sleep roll, let alone food, water, and the other necessities required for their mission. As he explained their goal and the payment for reaching it Toviyaah saw some of the rabble leave, judging the risk far greater than the reward. Before they left, he asked if anyone in the crowd had any military or organized fighting experience. Several men come forward, including two men named Lucky John and One-Eyed Pete. Toviyaah designated these men as his officers and had them convey his orders through the ranks. With the rabble looking slightly less than a hoard and a bit more like a company, Toviyaah set off for Oakhurst at a slower pace than his companions.
For Bufkin and Galdor, the days marching passed without incidence. Each night the different guilds camped separately from one another and each day they marched in four distinct bands. Finally they reached Oakhurst and in the interest of space, camped on a hill just north of the town. Settling in, Bufkin ordered one of the Silverhands to go into the town and ask the local authority to join them for a meeting. A little while later the Silverhand returned followed by a stout man with a large mustache and jolly face puffing behind him. After the proper introductions, Bufkin and Galdor explained who they were and the nature of their expedition. It was clear that the man was overjoyed at the sight of so many fighters because, as he explained, his town had been facing nightly harassment from goblins. Although they did not set fire to any buildings or cause any other major destruction, it was only a matter of time. The people of Oakhurst had remained alive for so long because each night they bordered up their houses and prayed for the sunrise. Bufkin inquired about the source of the goblins and their numbers. From the man he and Galdor learned that the goblins always came from the woods that bordered the town to the west in groups. Bufkin and Galdor assured the man that they were here to help and gave him instructions for the night to keep the townspeople safe. With their meeting concluded, the man returned to the town and Bufkin and Galdor set about preparing their defenses for the night.

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The Library and the Mob
Part 10

That next afternoon the three adventurers separated for personal reasons. Galdor exercised and went to find a place to refill his flask of liquor. Bufkin went in search of potions and other magical help, while Toviyaah looked for a temple to his god. As Bufkin was walking he was stopped by a group of the city watch. Obviously looking for a bribe, Bufkin refused and made fun of the watchmen, an act that they did not take too kindly to. Drawing their swords, Bufkin exited quickly and attempted to lose them by turning into the nearest building: the city library. Ducking behind the bookshelves, Bufkin watched the men enter and begin searching for him. Using the bookshelves as cover, Bufkin tried to quickly steal out of the library without anyone noticing when he tripped and ran headlong into the nearest bookshelf. After a heart-wrenching creak, the bookcase began to fall into the adjacent one. One by one the bookcases fell like dominoes, spilling their contents in a dusty and gruesome massacre. The City Watch stared dumbfounded while the librarians looked on in dejected horror. Using this pause to his advantage, Bufkin bolted for the door before anyone could stop him and ran until he was safely back at the Silverhands.
Back at the Silverhands the three companions rejoined. Galdor had his flask, Toviyaah could not find the temple he wanted, and Bufkin reported that he did not find anything of interest either. However, Toviyaah had been able to purchase a masterwork bastard sword from the Merchant Kings. Taking inventory of their remaining gold from the King, Toviyaah set out by himself without explaining what he was doing and told them to meet him by the docks later that evening. Perhaps annoyed by the secrecy, but not preoccupied by his behavior, Galdor and Bufkin let him go and decided to wait and see what he had in store.
Down at the docks, Toviyaah was knocking on the doors of all the shady establishments he could find in an attempt to spread the word about an offer he had. After talking through many gruff responses he became satisfied that he had gotten his message across and waited. As the sun began to set a crowd started to gather and Toviyaah placed himself in a position to be seen by those amassing. It was about this time that Galdor and Bufkin approached and settled in to see what Toviyaah was up to. Before them was the largest collection of human trash that Athkatla had to offer. Thieves, brutes, sell swords, drunks, and other unappealing men were milling about in a small square looking as confused as anyone as to why they had been summoned. What was most surprising, however, was the number of people gathered. Close to 500 vagrants filled the square all waiting expectantly for someone to take control of the situation.
Taking his cue, Toviyaah raised himself up and began addressing the crowd. Appealing not to their sense of pride or duty, simply common greed, Toviyaah promised them several weeks pay for just one night’s work. The thugs’ shaky loyalty secured, Toviyaah, his friends, and the Silverhands dispersed the thugs to various points to help them secure the area around the Mages’ Guild building. The night passed fitfully, but without major incident. That said, they still had a major problem as the sun rose- they did not have enough cash on hand to finish paying the ‘militia’ that had so hastily been raised. Praying to Kelemvor, Toviyaah was able to convince the thugs that any who wanted a larger pay day would need to follow them as they finished off the goblins. He said that any man who wanted the treasure of a lifetime need only follow them, and help them finish off the goblin menace. Many grumbled and left, but several score did indeed follow them out of the city, at least for a while.

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The Recruitment of the Guilds
Part 9

Lieutenant Eden was deeply troubled by the news that Toviyaah brought for two reasons. One, whoever had done that must have been extremely powerful and was, as far as they knew, still at large. And two, without the Magicians Guild holding their territory a vacuum had appeared in Athkatla which could quickly lead to an all out war between the merchants. For these reasons, he quickly summoned a company of men and set off to secure the vacant stronghold and keep the power vacuum from exploding.
Reunited, the three companions filled each other in on their respective days. With the destruction of the Magicians Guild they no longer had the option of recruiting a party of magicians for their mission. Of course, they could have gone to the Red Wizards for help but none of them could stomach the idea. The Red Wizards were intelligent, resourceful, and ruthless. They believed that those who wielded magic were supreme to all others and had no respect for the lives of those they deemed beneath them. Since they did not trade on a large scale like the Merchant Kings, Cloud Peaks, or Sunset Company nor did they offer their services for a fee, like the Magicians Guild, their motivations were usually a mystery. The only saving grace was that they usually kept to themselves, a fact that none of the adventurers were itching to disturb.
That left the Sunset Company and the Merchant Kings to ask for help. Being a gnome himself, Bufkin was the clear choice to serve as emissary to the Sunset Company as they were made up entirely of gnomes from Lantan. That left Toviyaah and Galdor to see to the Merchant Kings. At the Sunset company headquarters, Bufkin was met with the first gnomish female he had encountered in a long time. Eager to do his part for his race Bufkin set about charming the young secretary by whittling her a name placard for her desk. Unfortunately, it had been awhile since he had done any writing and as a result the childish letters were hard to discern. With that Bufkin was called into the office where he met the leader of Sunset, Captain Luthar. Like Galdor before him, Bufkin was informed that Sunset would only supply troops if the other guilds did. Taking the opportunity to use a wealthy gnomish merchant company, however, Bufkin asked if Luthar would be willing to procure a masterwork chain shirt and sword for his personal use (fit to size, naturally). To his delight Luthar agreed and Bufkin left. As he exited Bufkin poured on the charm to make up for his crude woodwork prior and was pleased to see the young secretary blush, and he was off.
Back at the Silverhands, his partners informed Bufkin that the Merchant Kings had made the same stipulations to their support as Sunset Company and Cloud Peaks before them. With everyone on the same page, and the Silverhands offering men, the next day the three companions returned to the guilds and were able to get pledges for men from all of them.
That night the company once again found itself separating based on their own interests. Bufkin and Galdor went drinking with some of the Silverhands, while Toviyaah left on another holy mission to clean up the streets of Athkatla. At the pub the beer flowed freely while the men (and gnome) sang, gambled, and made a merry ruckus. As the night wore on, it was decided that they should visit a brothel and celebrate life. New to the city and not yet educated in the establishments of pleasure, Bufkin deferred to the Silverhands for where to go with the stipulation that he wanted someplace clean and of high repute. Assuring him that they knew “just the place” the men were off. Being a monk who had controlled such desires, Galdor took his leave and returned to the Silverhands while the rest went on their way. A short walk later they found themselves at a nice looking building with a welcoming half-orc matron. After discussing prices and desires, a parade of gorgeous women of all races were brought out for Bufkin to choose from. Picking a human that fit his perfect vision of beauty, he accompanied the woman to her room and (rolling a nat. 20, I kid you not) he rocked her world for all the city to hear.
Meanwhile, Toviyaah was in pursuit of an entirely different form of satisfaction: that satisfaction of justice. Walking the streets, Toviyaah saw a fair amount of drunken brawls but most of those were resolving themselves with two losers. Eventually it came to be that Toviyaah happened upon a group of slimy men mugging people in an alley. Approaching the criminals Toviyaah ordered them to stop, or face his justice. Turning, they ran down and alley drawing Toviyaah into a pursuit. As he rounded a corner they sprung a trap. Avoiding their attempts to trip him, he became surrounded by a handful of beady-eyed muggers who were drawing their weapons. Empowered by the right of justice Toviyaah drew is masterwork bastard sword, stepped forward, and accidentally flung it down the alley behind his attackers, back the way he came. Surrounded and without a sword, Toviyaah took the only option left to him and bull-rushed the opponent blocking his way. Knocking the man aside, he dashed for his sword…that was gone.
It was about this time that Bufkin came by, whistling in the nighttime without a care in the world. Seeing a commotion, he disappeared into an alley just in time to see a sword fly out from the alley across the street from him. Not a moment had passed before a thief came along and, seeing a sword lying on the ground, picked it up and ran. Just as he was about to leave and investigate, Bufkin saw Toviyaah run out of the alley with a look of concern on his face. Jumping up he called to his companion and went to meet him. Seeing his companion draw a throwing axe, Bufkin drew his sword and met Toviyaah in the street. The audacity of the muggers waned with the appearance of this new, armed foe, and preferring not to fight in the open they retreated down the alley and into the night. Without mentioning anything of his loss, Toviyaah accompanied Bufkin back to the Silverhands and they went to bed.

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Athkatla and the Magicians Guild
Part 8

Upon return, the adventurers went to the Silverhands in order to give back the borrowed mule and accept the lodging that Roland had extended to them. Troubled by the appearance of powerful magical foes, the next day Toviyaah set off to the Magicians Guild in order to find out any information that he could about the mysterious cloaked men. A fellow user of magic, Toviyaah was offered a meeting with the Magicians Guild leader who gave him some troubling news. One of their members, Belek had deserted their ranks and was thought to be practicing dark magic as a rogue agent. While little information could be offered at the time of their meeting, the magicians did tell Toviyaah that Belek had a residence in a small town to the south called Oakhurst. The magicians invited Toviyaah to return the next day if he wanted more information, and with that he returned to his companions.
In the meantime, Bufkin and Galdor returned to Magistrate Benno with the hopes of pleading on behalf of the people of Rustwater for more help from the Cloud Peaks Company. They told him about the frequent troubles that had occurred and the night that the town was openly attacked. Out of a concern for the town’s safety and appealing to his merchant nature, Bufkin and Galdor argued that the trade coming from Rustwater would swiftly come to an end and all potential profits forfeited if he did not take the situation seriously. Seeing their point, Benno promised to send some real fighters to the town soon and with that, Bufkin and Galdor took their leave.
Back at the Silverhands the companions shared their information and it was decided that they would need to appeal to the king for aid. With their combat supplies almost depleted and the prospect of facing strong foes, they needed whatever support they could get. Tyros received the three adventurers and heard their account of what transpired in Rustwater. Most importantly, Toviyaah told the king their suspicions about the rogue magician and his possible ties to the goblin attacks. Tyros was unnerved by the idea of a goblin army being commanded by such a leader and wanted the companions to go to Oakhurst and see what they could find. As it has been remarked, the crown was not as wealthy or powerful as it had once been. Therefore, Tyros could not spare the men to accompany them on their investigation of Oakhurst. The only thing he could do was authorize the use of 5,000 gold for supplies and offer them the use of the official smith for the crown for anything else that they might need. With that, Bukin, Toviyaah, and Galdor left his audience and took counsel together.
Without men from the king, the three decided to appeal to the merchant guilds directly to see if any of them would be willing to send men along. In addition to people, they decided to patronize the royal smith in search of better weapons and armor. They found the stout dwarf smithy by his forge and inquired about his wares. While he was not able to make masterwork weapons, Bufkin commissioned a custom chain mail shirt with a large ‘B’ on one shoulder. Being a monk who carries his weapons at the ends of his wrists, Galdor refrained from purchasing anything while Toviyaah decided to wait in search of a masterwork sword. Their business concluded, the three set off back to the Silverhands as it was approaching evening. As was usual, Bufkin and Galdor spent some time drinking and gambling with the men not on duty before going to bed, a pursuit Toviyaah has yet to join.
The next day the three companions decided to split up and each talk to a different merchant leader to see what aid they might be willing to give. Due to his friendship with lieutenant Eden, Bufkin stayed at the Silverhands. As requested, Toviyaah went to the Magicians Guild while Galdor set out for the Cloud Peaks Company. Word had already reached the command at the Silverhands and being the most closely allied to the crown, it was not difficult to have them pledge a small group of men to help in their adventure. Magistrate Benno was not as forthcoming. Although Galdor made a strong argument, Benno stated that he would not commit unless both the Silverhands and the Sunset Company also committed troops. That way, all three factions would lose the advantage and not be tempted to take territory from any of the others. Galdor respectfully took his leave and returned to Bufkin.
When Toviyaah reached the Magicians Guild he did not find anyone at the gate to announce his arrival. Upon further investigation, he found the gates ajar and entered the compound. Nothing. Alert for any traps, Toviyaah continued onward and entered the main building. Suddenly it became clear why no one had answered. Bodies lay strewn throughout the compound, long since cold from their demise. As Toviyaah penetrated deeper into the building, he saw makeshift barriers that had been erected and bodies behind them. Finally, he became sure that the entirety of the Magicians Guild had either died or fled and he swiftly returned to the Silverhands to warn them of the attack.

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Rustwater Again
Part 7

When Bufkin, Toviah, and Galdor returned to Rustwater, they had only been gone a few days. A long enough time for people to begin talking, but not so long that their belongings that were left behind had been scavenged. During their return trip, Bufkin had not given up his spirit of pursuit and to that end he went to the only store in town and bought supplies with the intention of building a boat. Armed with wood and tools, he was excited to begin his labor when two wet blankets by the names of Toviah and Galdor decided to rain on his parade. Arguing that it would take too long to build, be too hard to transport to the cave, and too dangerous to try and pilot in the dark, the pair of nay-sayers finally got their way and Bufkin abandoned his perfectly sound plan. But he kept some of his supplies.
After checking in at the inn, the group returned to the mayor to report their findings (if you can call an abandoned dungeon findings). Without any evidence for their claims, however, the mayor proved skeptical. A secret dwarven ruin with goblins and dark magic that disappeared over night hardly seemed like the most logical conclusion to goblin raids. Having done what they could, however, the adventurers returned to the inn and made preparations to head back to Athkatla the following morning.
That night the town awoke to the sound of screams, fire, and blood. Dashing down to the main room of the inn, Bufkin, Toviah, and Galdor met wide-awake and armed for battle. Going to the window, they saw a host of goblins moving through the town, lighting buildings on fire, and eviscerating the population that got in the way. In the midst of this horrific storm strode three figures cloaked in black, walking slowly with no regard for the mayhem around them. With no regard to the danger at hand, Toviah exited the inn and called to the three figures. Inside the inn, Bufkin and Galdor prepared defenses and waited their turn to attack. The lead figure called Toviah to give up the gnome in return for their departure, an offer Bufkin did not take kindly to. As he was shouting his reply, Bufkin blacked out. Toviah and Galdor saw the gnome go dazed and begin to walk towards the figures. Acting quickly, Toviah cast flame strike on the cloaked men, which released Bufkin from the enchantment. Before his spell could do any damage, however, the three cloaked men vanished from their spot and reappeared at the end of town. Summoning the goblins, the men and beasts retreated from the town into the night.
By morning the fires had been put out and the dead had been removed. The town still stood, but the grim fear of the citizens had grown. Assuring that they would take the plight of the town to the king and the leaders of the Cloud Peaks Company, the adventurers left Rustwater (with an invitation to stay for free from the innkeeper). After three days on the road, they reached Athkatla and set out to make good on their word.

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The Dungeon
Part 6

Without a prisoner to guide them to the hideout, the party now had to rely on the skills of their ranger. Even though the ground was hard and the dirt was scattered, Bufkin was able to slowly track the goblins progress for several hours. The trail indeed led them north, into a more wild and rocky landscape where green things ceased and rocks grew in their place. As evening came, the party heard footsteps approaching behind them. Quickly, they climbed a rocky slope to a landing over the road where they witnessed a column of goblins marching in the direction they had been heading. Eager to not let another opportunity pass, Bufkin descended from his hiding place and followed the band of goblins for a short while until they reached a clearing, unremarkable, with the exception of a large opening to a cave into which the goblins disappeared.
After ensuring that the goblin activity had ceased for the time, Bufkin returned to the other two and led them to the entrance he had discovered. Unfortunately, when the party tried to follow the goblins in the entrance they encountered an invisible barrier preventing their advance. Frustrated but not dissuaded, our adventurers began searching for a way in when they happened upon some old dwarven artifacts. Knowing nothing about dwarves, Bufkin was at a complete loss. Although more competent than Bufkin in these matters, Galdor was likewise unable to discern the dwarven script. It was only when Toviah cast comprehend languages that he was able to read a basic riddle in dwarven inferring that the solution would be the password to get past the barrier. After some head banging and linguistic back flips, the right word was finally achieved and our three adventurers descended into the goblin dungeon.
Inside, lit by torches, was what remained of an old dwarven ruin that had been repurposed by the goblins. As our company advanced, they were met by pockets of surprised, albeit malicious, goblins who did not welcome our trio into their home warmly. Although most of the pestilence was rid of without incidence, the group was perhaps not as carful as they should have been and they allowed several goblins to escape further into the dungeon and as a result, raise the alarm.
Thus it came to be that our trio eventually ended up on one side of a narrow bridge, while a hastily fortified group of goblins defended the other side. The stone bridge spanned a dark chasm of unknown depth, while the bordering walls of the surrounding chamber were far and inaccessible, leaving the adventurers with the only option of crossing, or retreating out of the cave and away from their goal. With the arrival of the intruders the goblins began releasing arrows, an act of aggression that excited Bufkin and caused him to leap onto the bride with the hopes of crossing quickly and putting an end to the goblin insult. Unfortunately, the gnome learned the hard lesson that he is far from invincible and was quickly overwhelmed by arrows. Down and bleeding, Toviah cast obscuring mist on the bridge blocking their movements from the goblins, and he and Galdor were able to bring the brash gnome back to the landing and prevent his untimely demise.
Given their predicament and not willing to leave while they still could fight, the group decided to use the mist to mask their crossing. Once on the other side, Toviah would cast a spell of darkness and the group would go over the makeshift barriers and dispatch the goblins in close combat. As they crossed the goblins continued to volley arrows into the mist at random, but with little success. At the other side, Toviah cast his spell of darkness and the goblins were thrown into a panic. Eager to capitalize on the opportunity, Galdor bounded over the barrier and into the darkness… and was quickly overwhelmed. Down and bleeding, Galdor had fallen behind the barrier, inaccessible to his companions. With time running short, Bufkin attempted to throw his voice and imitate a goblin in order to lure the rest of the creatures away from Galdor’s body. Only somewhat effective, a few goblins were able to find the door on the back wall and escape the darkness, while others milled around in the darkness terrified. After several failed attempts to lasso Galdor’s limp body and drag it back through the darkness, Toviah decided to jump the barrier and carry it over himself. Always the athlete, Toviah fell on his face and got disoriented. Eventually he was able to find his way to Galdor, stabilizing him just in the nick of time, and tossing him body over the barrier to Bufkin. Once everyone had been attended to and was prepared, Toviah lifted the spell and the group bounded over the barrier (successfully this time) to dispatch the remaining goblins.
Beaten up with their supply of healing potions/spells nearly exhausted, the adventurers took stock of their situation. It seemed that whatever remained of the goblins had fled deeper into the dungeon in their fear. Following the only route left available to them, the trio happened upon a stair that would lead them down to the second level. This posed a bit of a quandary for our adventurers as they were loathe to retreat after everything they had gone through, but were in no viable position to handle much more fighting until they had regained some strength. After a long discussion, they decided to leave the dungeon and rest for a few hours and return with the new day (one option considered was to sleep in the dungeon itself, perhaps to more interesting ends, but that was dismissed for safety reasons).
Outside they found the sun setting, so they returned once again to their rocky ledge and slept in shifts. That night during Toviah’s watch, a black cloaked figure appeared on the road beneath them heading in the direction of the cave. Quickly and quietly he woke Bufkin who set off in stealthy pursuit. After following for a short distance, Bufkin turned a corner only to find emptiness. The figure had disappeared in the night and no amount of effort could find his trail. Disappointed, Bufkin returned to the others and, after telling them what happened, finished the night in ease.
The next day the group set off just before sunrise. Carefully passing through the entrance just as dawn was breaking, the adventurers were met by an extremely loud…silence. Darkness. Nothing. Lighting a few torches, they retracted their steps through the dungeon to the bridge. Feeling that some trap was lying in wait, they summoned their courage and plunged down the stairs to the second level. More nothing. They combed the area of any sign of life or previous inhabitation, but it was as if the ruins were just that: ruins. Finally, they reached a central room with a locked door. Ripping the door off the hinges, they stepped in the room and were met with evil. A gnome had been sacrificed in the center of a blood ritual, the dark magic hung in the air. This evil was not something any of them had encountered before. Try as they might no sense could be made from the inscriptions and no purpose could be discerned. Seeing that nothing could be done for the gnome they left.
The party plunged deeper into the cave, desperate for some answers. After some time their path ended in a ledge of a wide underground opening. Far below them they could hear the sound of water rushing. In an effort to see more, Toviah case a light spell on a torch and dropped it off the ledge. It came to rest on a small landing next to an underground river. Judging the distance to be too great for Bufkin to climb, but not too great for their rope (when tied together), they decided to lower Galdor down as his abilities would protect him from most minor falls. At the bottom, Galdor reported that the landing appeared to serve as some sort of dock. Since the three men did not believe the goblins to have left through the front of the cave, they must have left by boat sometime in the night. Unfortunately, the trio did not think to pack a boat with them that meant that for the time being, their detective work had come to an end.

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Rustwater and Goblins
Part 5

Perhaps the best way to describe Rustwater would be to envision an old western town crossed with a steel mill. The town was small, the population consisted only of workers and the necessary skeletal support, and the land was hard. The lifeblood of the town was in the mines, which supplied iron for trade. This trade was controlled entirely by Cloud Peaks Company, and therefore the Cloud Peaks also controlled the town.
Upon arrival to the city, the trio split up in order to find lodging and to gather information. They learned from the local “mayor” that the workers were split between three mines. The groups all left first thing in the morning together to their respective mines and came back late in the afternoon. Throughout the day, wagons laden with ore would run transport routes from the mines back to the town. It was during these transport routes that the goblins were attacking in force. Unfortunately, they attacked at random. Sometimes they would hit the same route twice in one day; sometimes they would hit one and wait a week before hitting another; and sometimes they would hit two at the same time. Armed guards had been dispatched in an effort to curb the losses, but at the time of the arrival of our trio that effort had made little impact.
Much of the same was heard from the workers when they returned that day. Talking with a small group of men in the local bar/inn, it became clear that the tough life had taken its toll on the people of Rustwater. The men were weary, the women and children were terrified, and there was no end in sight for them. Efforts had been made to request reinforcements from the Cloud Peaks HQ in Athkatla, but none had arrived. Therefore it was a bit of a disappointment to the people of Rustwater when a gnome, a monk, and… whatever Toviah is showed up to help. Without any other options, the men agreed rather indifferently to allow the adventurers to accompany them the next day, so long as they stayed out of the way.
The next morning Bufkin, Galdor, and Toviah left at dawn with the rest of the company, electing to walk at the back and observe. They decided to go to the furthest mine and accompany the transports each day, on every trip, until an ambush occurred. It didn’t take very many trips before a small company of goblins appeared and attacked the transport, this time only shortly after leaving the barricaded mine. The attack appeared to occur with two groups: the first group of goblins engaged the guards while the second focused on carrying away as much of the ore as they could. With the aid of our adventurers the guards were able to fend off the attack without suffering too many casualties and keep the bulk of the ore intact. Seeing that the guards were little more than young men and obviously distraught, someone suggested that they see the shipment safely back within the wooden walls of the mine, an olive branch the surviving guards took without question.
As was the habit of our trio, one goblin remained alive but injured in the aftermath of the melee. Needing to ascertain the location of the goblin hoard, Bufkin and Galdor began to question the goblin. Through pained breaths and a witless mind, the goblin was able to point them North “a long distance.” Before they could get any further information, however, Toviah once again stepped in and dealt his ‘righteous justice’ on the goblin and slit its throat. As you can imagine, killing a prisoner before they can be fully interrogated reopened some old grudges between Bufkin and Toviah, and although it came dangerously close to a fight it did not descend into a bloody brawl (this time). Bufkin did make it clear, however, that he would not allow for such a thing to happen any more. Then next time Toviah stepped in to kill a prisoner unilaterally, there would be payment in blood.

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