Chapter 5: Here There Be Goblins
Leaving Mishka to her fate with Bernard, the party returned to the cave at the base of the mountains. Entering the dark cavern, they encountered not a group of sleeping guards but a few hobgoblins and goblins ready and waiting for intruders. The party still managed to bring them down with relative ease and moved further into the darkness ahead. Walking along, Kerry was able to determine that a group of humans were to the south of them in the cave, presumably captives.
Passing through the darkness, fearlessly led by Sergeant Oaks, the party managed to surprise a patrol of hobgoblins, joined by a pair of orcs, apparently veterans of the Red Skull Mercenary Company. The hobgoblins engaged the party directly, however the orcs were keen to head straight for the group’s backlines in an attempt to break their attack. The battle was vicious and in their attack, one of the orcs attempted to flank Frazious but was prevented by a well-timed web spell, trapping the orc. Greyson’s Mailbot continued putting work in by repeatedly charging into the enemies while Kerry maneuvered around the cave walls, and Harambe, Snicker-snack, and Sergeant Oaks kept the frontline busy.
After the pitched battle against the patrol, the party paused for a brief rest in hopes that another would not come their way. As luck would have it, they were able to recover and move on but heard marching from nearby cave paths. Moving forward with newfound caution, Sgt. Oaks cast invisibility on himself and carried his driftglobe so that he would be able to see. As the group approached a junction, they were able to hear voices coming from both directions – the same voices coming from both directions somehow. Kerry was able to make out that they were hobgoblins and orc voices and that they were baffled over the murder that had occurred. The group was discussing how intruders had entered the cave, killed the guards at the front and two smaller groups, then apparently left again. This was, in fact, the location of the party’s final battle the last time they were in the cave and it seemed to be causing some confusion for the creatures which came across the site. While the voices were speculating over who it could be, Sgt. Oaks pressed onwards, in fact moving significantly ahead of the rest of the party until he was very close to the the now-apparent hobgoblins and lone, tough-looking orc. He then disabled his drift globe, walked up to the nearest hobgoblin and fired his mighty thunder cannon.
The battle began fairly roughly for the sergeant, as he found himself separated from his companions – by over one hundred feet of winding cave in Kerry and Harambe’s case. Mailbot had been badly damaged in the previous battle, and Frazious and Snicker-snack needed to catch up, Snicker-snack left totally in darkness. However, Sgt. Oaks was able to hold off the group long enough for Frazious and Harambe to make it, followed by Snicker-snack and Kerry, to eventually push back the onslaught and come out victorious.
Inspecting the bodies of their enemies, they located a note on the orc which stated that there was a quartermaster in the north of the cave who would provide provisions for raids. Since they had a good feeling that there were captives to the south but provisions to the north, the party resolved that it would be wiser to get the provisions and ensure a successful rescue at the potential risk of losing captives. Taking the path north, the party made its way through winding tunnels which still had the red runes etched into the cave ceiling. They came upon a large room, however, which was lit by braziers. Inside was a group of hobgoblins in line at what looked like a crude alchemy table with goblin and hobgoblin guards at the sides. In no mood for letting their opponents have a chance, the party crept up to the edge of the light and fired upon the unsuspecting hobgoblins with fireballs, rifles, and arrows. A goblin who was working at the table barely managed to survive incineration and ran to the back of the room crying.
The party then dealt with the remaining enemies, the half which had survived the initial assault, while the goblin in the back of the room continued crying and yelling not to kill him. Once the party finished with the main group, they turned their weapons on the goblin in the back, named Glurk. Glurk pleaded for his life and when Kerry asked why they should let him live, he informed the party that the goblins mostly minded their own business until the hobgoblins showed up and started bossing them around. The hobgoblins were then taking orders from the orcs that had arrived more recently. He told the party that he was smarter than the other goblins and was able to mix potions, and that it had been arranged that he would get a periodic supply of materials from some guy on the other side of the island so that he could prepare supplies for the raiding parties.
Having no lost love for his fellow goblinoids, however, Glurk offered several healing potions to the group as a show of good faith. He then asked if they would let him leave in exchange for a powerful healing potion that would restore an entire group as if they had had a good night’s rest. The catch was that the potions were fairly volatile and would need to be used within 24 hours. Naturally skeptical, the party questioned his intentions but they did seem genuine. Asking the goblin who was in charge and where they or any captives would be, Glurk was only able to mention that he knew prisoners were originally taken south and he wasn’t sure what happened from there as he generally just stayed in his supply room. He did say that there was a mage in charge and that he believed that the mage was located in the northwest of the cavern.
Snicker-snack then asked about the runes that had been carved into the ceiling. Glurk said that the wizard had come in and carved them into the ceiling and warned against fire, specifically certain magic fire from touching the runes but that it shouldn’t be a problem. When the party mentioned testing it out by shooting fire at one of them, Glurk shouted that they shouldn’t – that it would be incredibly dangerous. Given this new information and tapping his knowledge of the arcane, Frazious was able to determine that the runes were destructive in nature and connected, perhaps to a purpose of some kind of demolition. Satisfied with the information and agreeing to the deal with Glurk, the party allowed the goblin to mix three of his volatile healing flasks, one of which they used immediately. They then set off back to the junction with the intent of heading south and freeing prisoners.