Dealing with Success
We find our Goblin Stompers in the uncomfortable roles of Phlan heroes. After their success in putting an end to both a vampire threat and the Godsickness, the residents of Phlan were viewing them in a positive light and looking at them as role models.
This brought them to the attention of the various politicians looking to use them to their advantage. In finding evidence of claim to the previous monarchy, they already influenced Colvin Doverson’s campaign. And their quashing of the Godsickness did something inadvertent to Greyhawk’s outlook, breaking from Bane’s camp and campaigning more heartily for a parliamentary style government.
The DM reviewed the situation in Phlan, specifically the political factions:
- Colvin Doverson: the monarchy candidate looking to increase treaties for trade with other Moonsea cities.
- Jhessail Greycastle: the Black Fist commander who is seeking not power for herself, but to instate an elected parliamentary government.
- Barrett Sokol: seeks to reinstate the Council of Ten, a group of nobles and guild leaders, who seeks to rebuild the city infrastructure more rapidly.
- Samulkin: priest of Bane seeking to re-establish a theocracy.
There was also a little recent history lesson about how a green dragon and associated cultists brought the city to its knees by infiltrating the Black Fist guards, destroying many of the once proud buildings. Oddly, this kind of destruction has been a common occurrence in Phlan’s recent history…every few decades, the city ends up in ruins and they rebuild it.
So it was only natural that an emissary for Barrett Sokol, one of Phlan’s political candidates, would be seeking them out. The emissary, a blue-eyed half-elf woman, introduced herself as Aveen Seakin and let us know that the heroes are invited guests to Sokol Keep on Thorn Island, a significant landmark of the city. They were to meet with Barrett Sokol as he has something that might interest them.
It was about now that Raven showed up from more of her Harper business. Damn sneaky faction, sometimes as bad as the Zhentarim.
Arriving on the island, they were again greeted by repairs to the buildings and surrounding grounds. Passing through Sokol Keep, they passed by people of wealth who were not afraid to show it. The decorations were lavish and no expense was spared. It was clear that Aveen was not of this sort and must just be a hired hand as servants guided them through the place. Finally reaching the audience chamber, they only had to wait moments before their host burst in, grinning broadly and flush with excitement.
After thanking the heroes for coming, he launched into how he wants to rebuild the city. That’s why he needs materials from the Dragon Spine Mountains. Unfortunately, his emissaries to the dwarven clan of Hammersfell have gone missing. They were sent on a mission to negotiate the acquisition of stone materials needed for rebuilding. He needs someone to find them and broker the deal with the dwarves.
He’s offering 5000 gold (in platinum or gems). The Goblin Stompers accepted the job.
When questioned, Sokol explains that the team left 10 days ago and he last heard from them 6 days ago. The leader of the team was a dwarf named Bruw Clangeddin. He was following a map provided by Aveen who is familiar with the area. Bruw is very easy to recognize as he’s missing his left eye and has lots of other scars. Also on that team was Artora, Sokol’s personal steward. Artora is a silver-tongued (figuratively) woman in her 30s with long dark hair who bears one of Sokol’s signet rings. The rest are servants of House Sokol. They all wear the house colors – green and gold. They had the initial payment to the dwarves with them – platinum with Sokol’s face imprinted on them.
The Clan Hammersfell reside in mountains, just south of the Glacier of Silver Blades. They were to follow the Stojanow River, through the part of the Quivering Forest into the Ticklebelly Hills (that’s where they last sent word). From there, they would take a pass that skirts the Glacier to the dwarven home. Aveen will be the Goblin Stompers’ guide, but she’s no fighter – she’s more of a scout than a ranger with trade guild ties.
After feasting on his offered banquet, they headed back to Phlan where they were received with a parade…making it very clear that Sokol had arranged it. After some discussion, Aveen convinced them that horses and wagons were not a good idea where they were going. Despite this, Caesare still summoned his phantom steed later to ease the load on his feet.
On the Trail
They did some last minute shopping, picking up 19 healing potions, distributing them evenly among the 6 members of the Goblin Stompers, yes including Rolen, so that they each had 3. Klang left a message with the Lord Sage on their whereabouts. Then they headed out following the trail the Aveen indicated, along side the river and into the Quivering Forest. Between Aveen and Valin, they were not hampered by the terrain. Valin even found a deer trail that shaved off some time. Aveen was impressed. They stopped when they had traveled some ways and found a recently abandoned camp site with a few animal gnawed corpses nearby – wolf most likely.
Rolen frisked the bodies and made off with 200 gold. He had Aveen confirm they were not the people Sokol had sent. That made sense, they team had made it to Tickleberry and they had a long ways to go before they reached that. Valin sent a cordon of arrows. Rolen foraged around for poisonous plants and found edible mushrooms instead, which he shared with the team. A few ate them.
Orik asked Aveen about any known thieves of bandits in the area. She replied that there are some rumors of highway men, but nothing concrete. They rested uneventfully and the next day’s travel was similarly quiet, until Caesare noticed brightly covered birds eating flying beetles – both he had never seen before. Yes, it was that uneventful. Other than the wacky dreams and subsequent robust health they felt (at least those who ate the mushrooms), there was nothing notable.
Another quiet night and the next morning after Klang’s prayers, he noticed a thick mist by the river causing him to cough and sneeze. Real danger signals that. Valin and Orik later spotted a unicorn in the distance. It didn’t seem to be interested in getting close to the heroes until Orik managed to coax it to let him approach. It telepathically informed him of the safest path to the mountains and avoid the swamp. Then it just disappeared by teleporting away. What a strange and pleasant land, must be a druid in the area.
When the selected a camp, Orik set animal traps. Valin went foraging and came back with a deer of exceptional quality (endowing them with constitution bonuses). Rolen found the same mushrooms again and all opted to partake. Caesare had his unseen servant setup the camp and cook the food.
Orik struck up a conversation with Aveen. He learned she’s the daughter of a sea elf and a human pirate captain. She currently procures items for the Whole Realm’s Catalog. He wasn’t particularly interested and neither was she in his lame tribal history. So they gave it up and all rested well for another night.
DM informs us that it is common knowledge that the Whole Realm’s Catalog is an organization that collects rare treasures for sale to collectors and adventurers. Like much in this areas, it’s rebuilding itself.
The following day was more of the same, only this time they were dealing with brambles. It was nearing night when a wide-eyed woman, significantly worse for wear, came stumbling out of the trees ahead. She was mumbling something about mountains, frozen giants, and spear of ice before collapsing unconscious. Valin healed her, then gently questioned her, building a small amount of rapport. Her name is Meenar and she is a mercenary in the Razorhand Company in Phlan. The Company was lead by a human warrior named Rouse Blackbrand.
Suspicious, Klang checked her medical status carefully – poorly healed lacerations, signs of frostbite on fingers and toes. She’s not faking it and her hand had a tattoo on it that seemed related to corroborate her membership in mercenary band (something Klang had experienced). She went on talking…their commander ordered them to wear the tabards. They were operating in the Glacier of Silver Blades when a battle with frost giants went badly. She barely escaped and most of her party was killed or captured…and some eaten.
They fed her and kept a close eye on her that night. The next day was more cloudy, foggy, and the bugs set in on them. Mosquitoes were the worst, but the beetles weren’t much better. It got so thick that the droning noise started to induce headaches. It was about then that Valin and Caesare noticed some shadow move to one side by some boulders. Then boulders started to move.
It seems six cyclops decided to try an ambush, but it didn’t work out well for them. Orik proved his weight in gold for that battle, fending off nearly all of them while the rest were picked off by his comrades. Klang learned not to use “run” as a command word. Valin found barage of arrows useful. Unfortunately, the only “treasure” they had was a necklace of hands.
Foraging around, they found the cyclops tracks circling around them. So it was an ambush. The rest of the day and night were restful. The next day was raining and damp. Caesare’s unseen servant was holding an umbrella for him. They heard the roar and then spotted an adult green dragon in the distance. Valin was able to precisely locate it, noting there’s only one to the north.
An argument followed with Valin wanting to see out and kill the dragon, and Aveen noting that is not their mission. Aveen won with, “The longer we tarry, the less likely any will survive.” So we kept trudging along though the rain.
Finding the Sokol Emissaries
Finally, the next day, they arrived at the Quivering Forest. Here they find a devastated campsite with the remains of tents and a smashed wagon. Also laying about are broken pieces of swords and armor. Large deep chunks of sod have been torn up. It’s cooler here, their breath visible.
Two corpses are found – a dwarf and human – both wearing the colors of Sokol. The human body has a bloodless hole through it’s chest. Inspection of the hole suggests a frost weapon. Aveen confirmed both bodies were mercenaries from the team Sokol sent. So we found them, but most are missing.
Moving the tree off the crushed the dwarf corpse, they looked closer at it. For being dead several days, the corpse was well preserved with no animal scavengers marks yet. Strange. It’s almost like the Sokol team was ambushed and overwhelmed quickly, offering little resistance.
Valin found big tracks leading away into the mountains, probably the giants Meenar’s team encountered. Caesare notices a pixie hiding nearby and strikes up a conversation. The pixie says he wants “shiny or shady”. After bribing the little pixie several times, they learned:
blue giants had attacked the campsite, took some big people away, not sure why
Meenar’s previous team had camped here a few times
the dead people here were not the same as Meenar’s previous team, yet wore the same colored clothes
they took the people back to their camp
there were no dragons involved in the attacked
Wasting no time, they set out following the tracks. If what Meenar said about the giants eating people, they didn’t have much time. It didn’t take too long before they spotted a fortress. It didn’t appear to be built by giants, but it was obvious they inhabited the place. The tops of their heads could be seen in both towers.
Caesare sent his owl to scout the fortress, noting the main structures and rough count of giants therein. There was a breached wall on one side, but the ruin spilled around it was difficult terrain. Not a good place to be with boulder throwing giants about. So the heroes settled on a frontal assault, using mostly natural attacks on the guards in the towers – insect plague on one and sleet storm on the other, mostly to obscure their vision and make it hard to throw things.
Caesare and Klang rode the phantom steed to the wall so Klang could stone shape a small passageway through it. Then they rushed in…Rolen kind of stopped half way until Caesare threw some silverware at him. Animating the silverware, Caesare had the forks attack the giants. Rolen, seeing what awaited him in the fortress came back out.
A horn sounded and the element of surprise was gone. Orik rushed through the passage, attacked, then ran back out the passage. Valin sent a barrage of arrows through the passage into the giants fending off the silverware attacks. Looking through the passage, Klang hit one with flame strike. Raven also took a bow shot through the passage. It was complete mayhem inside the fortress.
That’s when the giants opened the fortress door while others ran out of the breached wall to flank whatever was attacking. All it did was slow them down so they could be hit several more times. While the more mobile Goblin Stompers dropped away, Klang healed Rolen and then was cornered and felled by two giants. Valin was felled by boulders. Caesare made good use of his mage hand, having it grab the healing potions of his fallen comrades and dumping it down their throats when the giants weren’t looking.
Valin and Klang played dead for a few rounds until they could get in a surprise attack. Meanwhile, the rest continued to fall back to the giant’s advance, dodging boulders and firing ranged attacks at them. Then it was Valin’s turn to strike back, hitting giants from behind. Klang dropped a fire storm on a group of giants. Then it was mop up time.
All this time, Orik had once again entered the fortress and was single handedly fighting two giants with only sporadic help from his team. Once the mop up started, Klang ran into assist Orik, helping to fell one of the giants.
It was an epic battle, but the 13 (or was it 14?) frost giants eventually were sent to ground.
Total experience = 11051 per character
Since we switched from milestones back to experience gathering, we should all have the same experience points (168285) except for Raven.
Maybe next time, we’ll meet Clan Hammersfell…