Next day (Hex 7)…
The morning after we discuss our plans to raid the bandit camp with Lord Kesten Garess we rise early and head out in the direction of the camp. Along the way, we notice lots of bones scattered all over the ground — kobold, animal, etc. Suddenly the ground begins to move and shake beneath our feet, as if there’s something underground. It’s a giant spider! It leaps out of a hole and attacks; we fight and eventually roast it with alchemist’s fire. We drag the carcass out of its hole, and notice there’s a shaft leading downward. We lower Nelbin down the hole on a rope. He finds the body of a bandit down at the bottom and loots leather armor, some nice doeskin boots, a short sword, some gold and a Stag Lord amulet from the body. Also he finds a map in one of the boots — on it is a drawing of a tree that looks like a claw on a barren hillside; on it is a red X marking “treshure.”
Next day (Hex 8)…
Riding through some craggy hills, we find a 5 ft. wide crack that leads into a cave. We go in and discover there’s a huge vein of gold in the wall. We mark it on our map “potential mining locale.” We exit & conceal its entrance.
Next day (Hex 9)…
We arrive at the bandit camp. Nelbin talks to a bird, who tells us that there are currently 6 bandits there. Nelbin does a sleep spell on a guard up in a tree; August climbs up and assassinates him (and subsequently finds a thunderstone on the body).
A battle ensues. We kill 8 bandits (way to count, bird!), and capture Kressle.
Loot: 7 longbows; 8 shortswords; 8 daggers; 8 sets of leather armor; Kressle’s 2 masterwork hand axes; 200 g. worth of furs; 90 g.p., 321 s.p.; silver earrings; a wooden music box; 8 bottles of absinthe; 2 Stag Lord amulets.
Back at Oleg’s…
We cage up Kressle. Lord Kesten Garess awards us our promised mastercrafted weapons.
While there, Nelbin has to leave — There’s a half orc fighter named Lochnar at the fort who takes Nelbin’s place in our party. (Something about being hired to look for Nelbin’s parents?) Also joining our party is Drixt, a half elf ranger.
Kressel summons Sirene, saying she wants to give the cleric her last confession. Tells Sirene all about the Stag Lord — says he’s a drunk. He usually has at least a dozen men and several lieutenants with him (one of which she says is a fallen paladin). She says the password to get into his camp is “By the Bloody Bones of Saint Gilmog!” (and the proper reply is “who wants to know?”). She tells Sirene that the Stag Lord’s men are terrified of him… He has a horrible appearance — scary! — and lots of his men think that’s his actual face, but Kressel thinks it’s just a helmet.
Oleg tells us what he knows about that awful hunter — which isn’t much. He says the dude’s name is Breeg Oglavich and he’s a misanthrope. (no shit!)
Svetlana makes us breakfast. While we’re eating she jabbers on about some people she’s worried about — she wants us to check on them. One of them is a hermit named Bokken, who makes potions. The other is a guy named Darvic Nettles, who runs a ferry across the Thorn River. She hasn’t seen or heard from them in a long time. And “oh yeah, don’t forget that Tatzlwyrm head I want!” Gimme, gimme, gimme. Sheesh.
Next day …
We head out. We explore 10 & 11 without incident.
We find Bokken’s hut (which is weird, with a creepy talking door). He invites us in and gives us some disgusting root tea, and brags about some potions he has for sale. They’re very tempting; we want to buy some, but we can’t afford them. He makes us a deal: he’ll give us 50% off every potion he’s got for a whole month if we get him some Fangberries. He also tells us that Grigs like sweets and will leave us alone if we give them sweets… He offers us some honey to purchase for this purpose; says it will come in handy. We also buy 5 anti-venom potions. He offers to allow us to spend the night there; we gratefully accept.
Next day (Hex 13)…
While exploring we find a rock jutting out of the ground. It’s a cave! We send Lochnar in (with his darkvision and all). After he tells us it looks clear, we follow him in. Further in we come upon a pile of rubbish (odd). Keep going, and the passage leads into a room. There’s a fire with something cooking, and yet another pile of rubbish in the corner… under which something is moving! We look closer and notice that’s no pile of rubbish!! It’s a giant figure! We hear sobbing…. We call out “who’s there?” This thing looks up — it’s HIDEOUS!! It’s a super deformed ogre who tells us he’s been cursed by a “fey queen.” Just then another hideous ogre comes in and they both decide they’re going to eat us. Goody.
A trap is sprung, and we fall 20 feet through the floor and into a pit. And the door slams shut over us. After much ineffectual rumination, we finally decide to oil ourselves up and squeeze out through a narrow escape tunnel. We emerge in the daylight to find one of the g.d. ogres standing by our horses, eyeing them hungrily.
A horrible fight ensues. After much frustration and ass-kicking, we finally kill him… only to be faced with the second ogre. Another hideous fight… The ogre is finally slain, with August dealing the death blow with his telekinetic fist!
We go back into the cave to check it out. It has veins of black powder that can be used for alchemy. Petra inspects the bodies and decides they’re Thawns, also known as mud giants. They’re so ugly don’t even like looking at each other.
Next day (Hex 14)…
We suddenly come to the Crooked Tree from that treasure map we’d found in the boot at the spider cave! We dig and find some booty… wrapped in a heavy leather cloak: a masterwork dagger; a magical wand of burning hands; a silver ring (really nice, but not magic); an old spell book.
Next day (Hex 15)…
We make it to the Shrike River. There’s a really old, rickety bridge. After MUCH vigorous debate, the decision is made to not cross here; it is decided that the bridge will not hold our horses, and we don’t want to go without them.
That night as we’re camping… A humanoid figure sneaks up to our camp, and when we call out, it croaks in reply. Boggards! Seven of them in all. They tell us they’re looking for one of their own who tried to kill their “god-king.” This villain’s name is Garum, and he has a maimed left hand. They tell us they’ll be traveling up and down the river, and if we kill Garum they’ll give us 1,000 g.p. — But we need to provide the hand as proof. Apparently Garum is extremely dangerous; not only does he have 2 pet slurks, aka saber-toothed toads with squirty venom, but he’s also very tricksy. He’ll try to trick us! For this reason we must kill him on sight, do not let him speak!
Next day (Hex 16)…
We come across a huge sycamore tree, very ancient and imposing, an obvious landmark. Drixt identifies some tracks at its base as both fey and kobold, and the tracks lead into a hole at the base of the tree. Drixt and Kilia go down into the hole, where they encounter 3 mites. They kill 2 and one gets away.
The rest of the party joins them down there, and encounter more mites. We pursue them into a room where we see 10 mites, as well as several kobolds who are bound and being held captive by these mites. After killing the mites in this room we examine the kobolds and discover that all but one of them is dead. He tells us his name is Mekmek and he’s from the Sootscale Tribe. They came to this cavern to retrieve their sacred idol, and the mites captured them. We free him and try to find a way out; it continues to lead into more & more rooms, all the while encountering more mites which we have to fight, as well as a nasty giant tick and a giant centipede. It’s grueling, but we manage to kill these and press on.
Further into the cave, we find a statue of Zargoz, Mekmek’s lost idol, as well as a map to the Sootscale Camp, and a piece of paper, upon which is written “Us: kobold statue, lots of spears, coins. Them: magic dust, lots of coins, shiny human ring.”
After this we encounter yet more mites… Lochnar intimidates them and they’re easy pickins. Also we slay an icky mite menage a trios. Gross. We finally make it out of this cave. Whew.
Next day (Hex 17)…
After resting up for the night, we head toward the Sootscale Caves to take Mekmek home. When we arrive there we discover it’s an old silver mine. Mekmek confers with some other kobolds, who allow us to enter, telling us to take the idol to Chief Sootscale.
We travel deeeeeeep into the caves. We’re led to a room where we are told that a tyrannical priest named Tartuk forces them to sacrifice their own if they’re deemed “not devout enough.” Tartuk tells them that those who are not devout turn yellow. (??)
We meet Sootscale, who tells us he plans overthrow Tartuk and free the tribe of his tyranny! We use careful diplomacy to convince these kobolds to ally with us, telling them we’ll help them overthrow Tartuk if they agree to forge an alliance with us here in the Stolen Lands. It is agreed.
We stage an attack on Tartuk and his kobold flunkies. There is of course an enormous fight, and Tartuk proves a challenging opponent, what with some general slipperiness and some crazy invisibility crap he can pull. But we finally manage to slay him. Sootscale is overjoyed and thanks us.
When searching the room after killing Tartuk, we find his journal. It’s written in undercommon, which is very strange because that’s totally NOT a kobold language. Come to find out….. Tartuk used to be a gnome! Long ago his village was besieged by ogres, and rather than fighting them he sided with the ogres. The ogres, however, were not so forthright, and they ended up killing Tartuk. Eventually the ogres were run off, and the surviving gnomes reincarnated Tartuk as a kobold as punishment for his treachery. Horribly bitter, he worked his way into a kobold tribe, using his wily sorcerer’s ways. He worked his way through tribe after tribe, killing them all, and was working on this tribe, starting a war with the mites. (I somehow did not record the deal with why the “unfaithful” were yellow… I remember this had significance, but I don’t know what. Oops.)
302 g.p., 132 s.p., 7420 copper.
Masterwork light metal shield
(7) +1 flaming crossbow bolts
Pair of boots of elven kind
Masterwork cold iron sickle
+1 bracers of armor
+1 cloak of resistance
Wand of magic missiles
A soiled leather bag containing…..
13 platinum, 249 gold, 321 silver.
1 dose of dust of illusion
1 GOLD WEDDING RING!
Sootscales LOOOOVE us — we’re heroes! They pledge their alliance to us, and agree to sign a treaty to this effect.