Helaku looks up from the horse, "Ho! Thanks for the assistance! I don't suppose you have the same skill with the healing arts that you do with arms? If so, we could be further in your debt if you could help here. Otherwise, if you don't mind keeping an eye on that hobgoblin a few more minutes, we ought to see about him next."
"Go. I've got him." Ambrose dismounts, keeping his eye on the hobgoblin, and approaches him. With a snap of his fingers, Smoke follows a step behind. Ambrose reaches into his pack and pulls out his pair of well-crafted manacles. "A precaution," he tells the enemy. He then binds the priest's wrists and inclines his head towards the road. "Move along, back to the road. We have questions."
Dapples, the poor horse, seems to be on his last shuddering breaths when Aleste rushes back to the group. He pulls the stopper out of a potion of healing and forces it into the horses mouth. Miraculously, the horse seems to revive, and manages to stumble to its feet on shaky legs. The mount doesn't seem in very good shape at the moment, but at least for the moment Dapples lives.
Soon after, Ambrose returns, with the manacled hobgoblin priest in tow. The two hobgoblin prisoners look at each other grimly, as you decide your next steps.
Over to you, guys. What would you like to do next, carry on to Drellin's Ferry, check the area or bodies, talk to the prisoners?
As the horse revives I pat its flanks and then leave it to Shaylar.
Looking around the scene, I decide to search the hobgoblin leader.
perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15
Keep a close eye on those two, it should only take one or two of us to search the bodies. Might want to check out that buidling ruin? as well.
Once he has brought the priest back to the road, Ambrose nods to Aleste, and smiles at Dapples. "Good to see he still lives." He urges his prisoner near Keliwyn's, but keeping enough distance between them to prevent anything shady. He looks to the elf and gives a respectful nod. "Well met, I am Ambrose Harrowfield, a Lion of Brindol. I thank you for your assistance to us and service to the realm."
Looking to the prisoners, Ambrose gives them a studious look. "I know raids by your people are not uncommon in these western reaches of the Vale, but this is the most organized effort I've seen. You have my compliment in that. Are there more of you nearby - who is your leader?" Ambrose will also look for a holy symbol on the priest and if he sees one, will try to puzzle out its affiliation.
Knowledge (Religion): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
Diplomacy, if necessary: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12
Helaku smiles, "Forgive my companions' abrupt search and queries, but I'm sure there is a much better chance of leniency for your attack if you will cooperate with our questions. We were merely travelers passing through. Why have you attacked us so viciously?"
Diplomacy 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (15) + 18 = 33 Including the +3 for his familiar within reach
Might want to plan on standard operating procedure for Diplomacy being assisting Helaku. He's got a kinda crazy Diplomacy score. Not that I expect to get too much out of these guys.
Aleste - Checking the body of the sword wielding hobgoblin leader, you discover little of interest apart from two shortswords that obviously seem magical and a well-made set of studded leather armor. Two +1 short swords and masterwork studded leather. However, searching the hobgoblin priest who seemed to have an influence over the group, you discover a collection of two potions, two scrolls, an excellent heavy mace, a spotless suit of banded mail and a shield. +1 banded mail armor, light steel shield, masterwork heavy mace, 2 unknown scrolls, 2 unknown potions. The building doesn't reveal any more clues, it appears to be an abandoned and crumbling farm cottage.
Ambrose - You identify the holy symbol as depicting Tiamat, the five-headed dragon goddess of tyranny and evil dragons.
Helaku & Ambrose - At first the two hobgoblin prisoners remain hostile and alternate between sitting sulkily in silence and hurling insults and threats at you - "You may have won today, stupid pink-skins, but our day is coming! The Red Hand will destroy you all!". However, they seem a bit shocked at their defeat as well as intimidated by Ambrose's prowess and status as a Lion of Brindol, and cling to Helaku's offer that they might be kept alive if they cooperate. They reveal that their warband was operating from an old human castle in the forest, and that they serve the Wyrmlord Koth, whom they describe as a mighty sorcerer. They answer to Koth's chief lieutenant, Karkilan, who they describe as "a bull-faced killer as big as an ogre." They also reveal that more warbands are reaving the lands around "the human river-town" to prepare for the "Day of Ruin."
You're right, that is a crazy Diplomacy score. Sorcerers! :)
Ambrose lowers his voice to address his companions, though his whispers have a sharp edge to them. He is obviously quite upset by the hobgoblins' words. "That priest wears the symbol of Tiamat...a dark and terrible goddess, and queen of evil dragons. His mention of a 'Wyrmlord' does not bode well. Red Hand...day of ruin...warbands. It sounds as though they have an army."
"Well met, I am Ambrose Harrowfield, a Lion of Brindol. I thank you for your assistance to us and service to the realm."
"Well met, Ambrose," Keliwyn says with a nod. With that, the elf is content, for the moment, to let his new acquitances get to know each other.
As the hobgoblins reveal news of a larger force, the elf looks grim."I've been sent by my people to look into stories of coordinated attacks by large group of hobgoblins," he says. "It looks like our fears are real." Pondering this for a moment, he adds, "I'll help you bring these two to the ferry, and than I'd like to hear what else you've seen on the road."
As the horse revives I pat its flanks and then leave it to Shaylar.
With a sigh of relief, I look at Dapples as he regains consciousness and struggles to his feet. "Thank the gods. You're alive!" Wrapping my arms around his neck, I press my face into his mane: "I swear, Dapples, I'll get you some decent armor as soon as I have the money for it. You're too valuable a friend to let you come to harm. Now, let's get you healed up some more." Letting go, I turn towards Aleste first, a grateful smile on my face "Thank you, my friend. I am in your debt for saving his life." Then I move towards the hobgoblin priest, my eyes dark and flashing like there's lightning behind it. Prodding him with my boot: "You! You're a priest, right? Then you must know some healing spells. I know Ambrose gave you his word you would live, but I don't consider myself bound by that. However, heal my horse and I will honor Ambrose's word. Do we have a deal?" My hand rests on the grip of my longsword, ready to draw and behead the priest if he doesn't agree to my offer.
Zarr laughs at Helaku's questions: "We are beyond number! We will wipe you pink-skins from the face of the earth! The Day of Ruin will come soon, very soon. Our forces are poised to strike!" However, despite the hobgoblin's brave words, he cowers when Shaylar draws his sword, broken. The other goblin curses the priest as he agrees to perform a healing spell. You watch guardedly as you allow him to take hold of his holy symbol and mutters a prayer, channeling healing energy into Dapples. The horse recoils at the hobgoblin's touch, and though the healing works, the horse seems wary. Hobgoblin casts a cure moderate wounds spell on Dapples; 17 points to Dapples, does that bring your mount back to full strength?
cmw spell 2d8 + 3 ⇒ (6, 8) + 3 = 17
Hobgoblin casts a cure moderate wounds spell on Dapples; 17 points to Dapples, does that bring your mount back to full strength?
Yes, it does. At the end of the fight, Dapples was down to -9/15. Aleste's potion healed 20 hp to 11/15. This puts Dapples back up to full.While the other goblin curses the priest, I watch him closely for any signs of betrayal. When I see Dapples' last wounds heal, I lay my hand on the horse's neck, whispering softly: "It's alright boy. You're fine again." Turning towards the priest: "Alright, you've done your part. I'll honor my word."
Climbing back into the saddle, I make Dapples move a few steps aside before answering Helaku's question: "I don't have any more questions. Let's continue towards the Ferry as we intended. The twon council can deal with them as far as I'm concerned."
I stay near the front of the group, keeping my distance from the hobgoblins, as we walk on to Dreylin's Ferry.
Tiamat, Days of Ruin, Wyrmlord... why couldn't it just be a few stubborn hobgoblins raiding caravans?
As we walk I begin to make small talk with Keliwyn, Do you know Dreylin's Ferry? Is it far? I'm glad you came along when you did...
Helaku nods and making sure the hobgoblins won't overhear adds, "Until now, our journey was peaceful. We came to explore the abandoned Vraath Keep in the Witchwood. After the words from these hobgoblins I'm left to wonder if perhaps it isn't abandoned anymore. So, have your people heard anything more about these raids. We definitely seem to have walked into something much larger than it first appeared."
Pulling his hobgoblin prisoner along behind him, Keliwyn looks to the others and replies to their questions. "The Ferry is a nice enough town, if a little subdued. I was trying to gather information and heard stories about how hobgoblin raiders have been harrying local settlements for the last several days. According to the people I spoke with, they've attacked and killed people in the outlying homesteads, and they've been waylaying travelers along the Dawn's Way. That's when I decided to take a look for myself."
After a brief moments pause, he shakes his head and continues, "I was told that the hobgoblins and their kin have raided in the past, but that they seem bolder and more organized lately. The town council seems to be taking it seriously as well; Captain Soranna has called up the reserve militia, and Town Speaker Wiston has been approaching individuals he's hoping might have the skills to repel the raiders. It doesn't look like he's found anyone so far, so the guard have just been focusing on keeping the town safe."
"Do you know the castle the hobgoblins speak of? Is it indeed the Vraath Keep we were seeking? If so, the town council may have found the individuals he is looking for. Never been a fan of these uptight bastards. I'd be happy to go hunt a few more of them."
As Ambrose saddles up and starts moving again, he listens to the others talk, thinking on the names and places that have popped up in the interrogations and discussions, trying to see if any of them stick out in his memory.
Knowledge (Local) for the Keep (Untrained): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 1 = 10
Knowledge (Nobility) for Vraath: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
Knowledge (Nobility) for 'Wyrmlords' or 'Koth' (I suppose even goblin nobility is nobility?): 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17 or Knowledge (Local) if that is more appropriate: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
Ambrose, as a local, you are fairly familiar with the tragic story of Vraath Keep and it's last inheritors. Keliwyn, with your roll, you may even have been there when you were younger, when it was still a strong bastion against evil.
For centuries, trade through the Witchwood used the Dawn Way, and the soldiers stationed at Vraath Keep were the primary defenders of the region. Their presence kept the road safe for merchants to travel.
A few years before the fall of Rhest, an ambitious young man named Amery Vraath inherited control of the keep. After the Rhestilor kingdom dissolved, Amery laid claim to the entire Witchwood and sought to rid his new domain of its evil reputation. Chief among his targets was a tribe of forest giants that dwelt deep in the woods. Known as the Twistusks, these forest giants generally kept to themselves but raided merchants on the Dawn Way from time to time.
The brash young lord gathered together an impressive group of mercenaries and adventurers, and early one summer day led his force against the Twistusks. The battle was furious, but in the end Amery's men won the day and forced the Twistusks to flee into the mountains. The soldiers burned the giants' steading to the ground and returned to Vraath, victorious.
Yet their victory was short-lived. One week later, the surviving Twistusks returned and attacked Vraath Keep during a tremendoush thunderstorm. The giants bombarded the keep all night long with hurled boulders and massive poisoned arrows. When the sun rose, four of the Twistusks lay dead amid the ruined keep, but none of the keep's soldiers or residents remained. Those who had survived the battle were taken away to be eaten by the giants in their own victory feast - all except for Amery Vraath. The young lordling retreated into the vaults below the ruined keep; rumors persist that Amery's ghost still haunts the ruins and that those who dare to travel the Dawn Way at night say they sometimes hear the sounds of his anguished cries coming from somewhere deep underground.
Your successful rolls also give you a pretty good idea of the location of Vraath Keep.
Moving on with your prisoners, you soon reach Drellin's Ferry. The road descends into a small town built mostly on the near side of a broad, sluggish river. Six old stone piers jut from the water, marking the spot where a bridge once stood, but the span itself is long gone. Instead, a couple of long thick ropes cross the river, each secured to a flat-bottomed ferryboat. Brown fields and green orchards surround the town.
A group of armed townsfolk - three in leather armor, one in mail - stands guard, watching you warily. "Halt and state your business, strangers," one of the guards says. They are wary at the sight of the hobgoblins, though they relax somewhat as they recognize Ambrose as a Lion of Brindol, and one of them at least appears to recognize Keliwyn from before. The one in mail, obviously the guard sergeant strides forward and speaks gruffly: "Ho, what do we have here? What business do you have bringing these green-bloods to Drellin's Ferry?"
I'll be out of town this weekend, so will be unable to post. Should be able to update by next Wednesday.
Ambrose rides up to the guards, giving them a collective nod. "Good day, soldiers. I am Ambrose Harrowfield, Lion of Brindol, dispatched to patrol the western reaches of the Vale. These are my companions Helaku, Aleste, Shaylar, and Keliwyn. We were set upon by goblinoid raiders not too far beyond your limits. These two were questioned, and it seems that there is a great threat looming over our lands. I've given them my word as to their safety for their surrender and cooperation. If you could escort them to a cell and call your captain and the Speaker, I'd be obliged. Be careful with this one, he's a priest."
Diplomacy, if necessary: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23
Helaku smiles broader and raises a hand in greeting once Ambrose has spoken, "Greetings. Ambrose and Keliwyn have had fine words about Drellin's Ferry and it is good to get here at last, especially after the attack these miscreants helped spring on us outside town. Thankfully, we've already gotten a taste of the martial prowess of your fine town and Vale. These two fought like wildcats."
Diplomacy 1d20 + 15 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 15 + 3 = 28
Heading towards Drellin's Ferry, Keliwyn shares what he knows of the story of Vraath Keep, with Ambrose filling in what he knows.
As they approach the guards, he greets them with a friendly smile and then shoves the hobgoblin out in front of them. After Ambrose addresses them, Keliwyn tosses them the rope he has tied to his prisoner.
"When you find the good Captain and the Speaker, could you tell them to look for us in the Green Apple? I'd like to buy my new friends a drink and hear their plans."
The guard sergeant's eyes widen at your words. "Indeed! You're lucky you came through it. Bands of these murderous savages have been skulking near the town for days now. In fact, you might want to stick around. I won't deny that we're in a hard spot, and you look like capable sorts. We'll take these two," he indicates the two hobgoblin prisoners, "and pass your report on to Captain Soranna. We'll tell her and Town Speaker Wiston where to find you at the Green Apple. I like the Old Bridge, myself. If you need to find the captain in a hurry, head for the Old Toll House - that's the big stone building, there." He dispatches two of the guardsmen to take custody of the prisoners and lead them to the Old Toll House, which also serves as the town's jail.
In the Green Apple, Keliwyn notes fewer patrons than when he was here before. Perhaps the others have been called up to the militia, or due to the trouble they prefer to keep watch from their homes. Those patrons that are there get an earful from the proprietor, a stout dwarf named Tharrma, as she expounds on all manner of topics as she cleans mugs.
Some time later, after enough time has passed to share a few tales and a few rounds of the local brew, you notice two people making their way towards you. The first is an aging human male of about fifty with close-cropped hair and full beard and mustache, dressed in formal attire. At his side is a younger human woman with long brown hair and a serious expression, well-armed and armored with a breastplate and a sword at her side. She salutes Ambrose: "It is good to see the Lions of Brindol so far west!" she remarks in a crisp voice. The man smiles at this and introduces himself: "Greetings. My name is Norro Wiston, and I'm the Town Speaker for Drellin's Ferry. This is our guard captain, Soranna. I'll get right to the point: We're in a lot of trouble, and I was hoping I could persuade you to help us out." He waits to guage your reaction before continuing on.
"Our town is under attack. Hobgoblin raiders have been harrying our lands for several days now. They've attacked and killed people in the outlying homesteads, and they've been waylaying travelers along the Dawn's Way."
At this point Captain Soranna interjects, "We've had some trouble with them before - a quick raid on homesteads on the west side of the river, usually not that bad - but this is different. It looks like a large, aggressive tribe has moved down from the Wyrmsmoke Mountains. Frankly, I fear they might be numerous enough to sack the town." With this last statement, she pounds the table grimly with her fist.
"Beyond the immediate threat to our homes, the road is our lifeblood" the Speaker continues. " If the hobgoblins make the Dawn Way impassible to the west, trade won't come this way, and we'll be ruined. Not only do we need to repel the raiders from our town, but we've got to keep that road open. Can you help us do it?" He looks at you searchingly.
Helaku listens to the Speaker and Captain with troubled thoughts, "We're concerned with what you might be facing as well. It was a pretty large group we had to deal with and it is fortunate that Keliwyn came by when he did or the rest of us might have been hard-pressed. Those fools we captured were going on about a Wyrmlord that has either brought a large tribe or unified several tribes and an upcoming 'Day of Ruin.' I can't speak for everyone here, but I am willing to help. We'd hoped to make our way to see the abandoned Vraath Keep in the Witchwood, but now it sounds like the hobgoblins may be operating out of there as well. Besides some strong arms and spells in battle, how are you thinking we might help?"
Just the gold I think
Ambrose returns Soranna's salute with a bow. "It is my duty and honor to protect all miles of the Vale, my lady." He then listens to them speak with a grave look on his face, and nods along with Helaku when he explains further the situation. "Helaku speaks truly. There is a great deal more to these hobgoblins now than simple raiding. They are organized and capable. What this "day of ruin" refers to exactly we do not know as of yet, but I think it is clear that these tribes as one threaten the entirety of the Vale. I think it best for us to move into the Witchwood and confront this Koth, who seems to be a local general of sorts. If we are able to apprehend him, perhaps we might be able to get more information on what we are dealing with. Further, I must send good to Brindol." Ambrose turns to Soranna. "Good Captain, might you have a rider and a fast horse that would be up to the task? I will draft a letter to my superiors speaking of this threat. It would also be wise to alert the other towns along the Dawn Way, to be on their guard. If the tribes have already come down from the mountains, Heironeous knows how far they may have slipped without notice."
In any case, we are in sympathy. We were headed for Vraath Keep and now that is their base. I stretch out my legs under the table and scratch my neck, I don't see how we could refuse.
Then I directly address the Captain: Is there anything we can do to help shore-up your defences before we leave?
Content to let the others do the talking for now, I merely nod as introductions are made "I'm Shaylar Kallanereth. And I have something about hobgoblins and their like being alive."
Sitting in The Green Apple, I watch as the man and woman approach our table, poking Ambrose as they close.
Listening to the others tell of our experiences and subsequently offering our services, I nod with a look of grim determination etched on my face. "My friends speak true. We will help you eradicate this threat. The only good goblinoid is a dead one. Same goes for a lot of other miscreants by the way. I have one question though. When we ran into them in the forest, these bastards nearly killed my horse and I need to buy some armor for him. Can you help me there, bearing in mind that my funds are not as I would like them to be?"
@Helaku: Town Speaker Wiston strokes his beard: "We would like you to find where these raider are making their base. You mentioned Vraath Keep, which is in the Witchwood. It's certainly possible that the hobgoblins have seized it for their stronghold. It's supposed to be haunted, but they might not care. If we can find their base, we may be able to learn their intentions and either defeat them before they move on Drellin's Ferry or destroy their leadership."
@Ambrose: Captain Soranna looks at you directly. "We don't have many warriors to spare, but I'll arrange for a trusted rider to carry word to Brindol. The city may be too far away to send much aid, but as you say, if any other raiding bands have entered the Vale, then the other communities need to know as well. I'll tell my rider to spread the word to as many towns as he can, but he'll make straight for Brindol."
@Aleste: "Thank you for your offer. Not much we can do at the moment other than be vigilant. The town is too open to set up viable defenses, and if they see us fortifying the town it may just invite attack. I'm thinking that a direct attack against them might be enough to deter them from attacking us."
@ Shaylar: Town Speaker Wiston and Soranna listen to your request, and Captain Soranna replies, "Try over at Morlin's Smithy. We're just a small town and haven't had much need for barding, but Morlin Coalhewer might be able to put something together for you."
As the conversation winds down, Captain Soranna offers on last piece of advice. "If you're going to be wandering around in the Witchwood, I would advise you to seek out Jorr. You won't find anyone who knows the woods better. His cabin is out of the way, but it could be worth the walk. If you take the Witch Trail, go left at the first big trail crossing; Jorr's cabin is about seven miles in. Or, if you're on the Dawn Way, take a right on a trail about nine miles from the forest edge. Jorr's cabin is near the Blackwater."
Here is a key for the map of Drellin's Ferry, in case you want to speak to anyone or reprovision before heading out of town.
2. The Green
3. Town Speaker's House
4. The Green Apple
5. Morlin's Smithy
6. Shrine of Pelor
7. House of Sertieren the Wise
8. Old Toll House
10. The Old Bridge Inn
11. Jarett's Sundries
12. Delora's Livery Stable
13. Iormel's Warehouse
14. The Ferry
15. The Dwarfbridge
16. Gausler's Brewhouse
17. Jendar's Warehouse
18. Sterrel's Provisioning
19. The Old Ones
Helaku listens carefully as the Speaker and Captain answer the questions. When they are finished, he speaks, "Finding the stronghold sounds like something right up our alley. Is there anyone else in town we should try to speak with before heading out Otherwise, I don't see why we shouldn't start with this Jorr. It would be helpful to hear from someone who knows the wood so we can determine the most likely places the hobgoblins may be holing up. It seems most likely they are at Vraath Keep, but it sounds like he will know if there are others."