Grak is Dead
After a thorough debate about the pros and cons of carting off all, some, or none of the corpses they made, the party decided to move far away from the cavemouth and spend the rest of the day nursing wounds from the battles fought. All but Al were floated to their campsite on Sylus and Brandis’ magical discs. The big man, nearly as comfortable in the forest as he is on the mountainsides of the Shieldwall, covered his own enormous tracks.
After a good night’s rest, the group was back at the cave. Varis snuck quietly into the cave and found a precipice. The sunlight that flooded into the doorway cast his shadow on the sloping ceiling. Darkness gathered below. Al joined him and the two heard noises. A shuffling of feet. The air became restless. Are those goblin voices? they thought to themselves, as javelins flew past and into the goliath and the elf.
A goblin party was lying in wait, engulfed in a hexhurler’s cloud on the cave floor. Two deathjump spiders clung to the wall ready to poison anyone brave enough to climb down their webs. A range battle ensued from the cliff’s edge with arrows, blots, and spells raining down on the goblins and javelins being shot back up. The spiders pounced on Andxor and after a few violent exchanges, the avenger went down, poison coursing through his veins. The party enacted a tactical retreat to the steps of the cave, drawing the spiders to them, and the spiders were more than happy to advance.
The goblins below were falling asleep and then dying under Sylus’ spells, while Brandis called on Kord to honor the raw courage of his comrades by healing them all, bringing Andxor back from the threshold of death only for him to fall down the cliff face, trigger the pit trap and land, unconscious again, in a shallow layer of slime. 35 feet above, the spiders were slain. Al showed everybody how to climb down and not fall off of spiderwebs, those things designed by nature to keep you stuck to them, and continued the killing down below. Brandis heroically fell beside the pit and threw his arm over the edge to cast a healing prayer that saved Andxor again.
The hexhurler, who had failed to engage the opposing controller with any luck, literally none, finally died.
In the furious few minutes after the party had recomposed themselves. They rested and healed, experiencing a Highlanderesque power-up that puts steroids to shame. Wondering whether more monsters lurked down one of the four tunnels that burrowed eastward, the more perceptive of the group heard what was likely a hobgoblin barking orders down a distant tunnel, then all heard a bestial bellow that said, “I’m hungry, and you smell like good cookin’.”
After a tense quiet, the monstrous enemies burst forth from the tunnel in a collective charge. The party was suddenly faced with a bugbear strangler, a hobgoblin gang leader, two goblin blackblades, and a feyspitter spider… ouch. The melee combatants pounded on each other, while the spider threw its acidic spittle on Brandis and Sylus who hung back. There was a point when the party was thinking, Are we in for a spanking the likes of which we just endured? The strangler had Al by the throat, prepared to make a meat shield of his limp body, but the adventurers turned the tide quickly and soon the spider was all alone, fleeing down a corridor to find the place where she would die.
They had done it; Grak the slavetrader and all his gang were dead!
As the party rested again, hoping anxiously that nothing else bent on destroying them would appear, cries from a woman and a man could be heard. The true freelancers they are, loot was gathered from the dead before they turned their attention to the living. A cloak (of Chirurgeon) and a pair of (parrying) gloves were lifted off of Grak. The party then followed the cries to a cavern about 60 feet in diameter. In the center was another web, this one covering a 20×20 pit in the floor where the prisoners were kept. The party cut through webs and freed the prisoners from the hole. The prisoners were, in total, a couple with their two children, Anix (9) and Lisle (6), and a woman with her son, Jarvis (7), all of whom were taken from Larenyss recently. The couple, Dan and Rebie, are in their thirties, and their happy you are there, but they are somber and exhausted, having feared for their lives for days. The woman, mid-twenties, doesn’t speak. All the children are quiet too.
The party’s spirits weren’t dulled, though. A boon of coins and two large gems were stashed in a chest in a corner behind the goblinoid comforts of home, ragpile beds. The whole glittering heap of coins looked all the more seductive in the soft yellow light of the magical floating lantern that hovered nearby.
“Oh, darling treasure, be my bride./ We’ll lay down in the place where the goblins hide./ Between us there can be no divisioner,/ no woman, no monster, and no living prisoner.”