Recap: After several days of rest, the three companions packed up and headed west, and then south, hoping to reach ForDulhae in Vridara. Slowing moving over snow-covered plains, what they took to be boulders soon resolved themselves into the ruins of some ancient city upon a small hill. Using invisibility on the druidess, Phoenix, they searched through the ruins -- from which they had seen a plume of smoke fading. The plume of smoke had been a smoke stick, intended to signal a deal between some hobgoblins, and men working for an evil duke in Vridara. Phoenix learned that the men planned on buying a spellbook from the hobgoblins, at sunset.
Rather than attack either the hobgoblins, or the duke's men, they opted to try the brazen approach. The meeting was going to take place in the largest of the ruins, with the most walls to stop the northern winds. Sam discovered a young accolyte of Lul hiding in the ruins, and hiding from the wind. She had followed the duke's men from Lamental, where she had accidently helped him use the library there to find the ruins. The accolyte, named Tatyana, told them that the old ruins of the city were shaped like an arcane rune, but neither she nor the men she had followed knew what it meant. The duke obviously wanted to gain from some arcane mystery that had escaped the Inquisition, and had sent Aethelweard and two other men to quietly find out what it was.
At sunset, the party pretended to be making camp for the evening, when both the hobgoblins and the duke's men arrived. Confused by the presence of the party, Aethelweard politely insisted that Sam and the self changed Faeradd leave -- not even knowing that the invisible Phoenix was nearby. Sam and Faeradd pretended to leave, but snuck around the building, and through a monkey-wrench into the plans.
From Oorhl, Sam had learned the goblinoid tongue -- and he yelled to the hobgoblins that the deal was a double-cross. Wohl, the leader of the hobgoblins and a seven-foot-two brute, responded with violance. Aethelweard and his cronies tried to defend themselves, but the match was made somewhat even by the trickiness of the party. In the end, only the hobgoblin was left alive, for he understood Sam, and his situation. The berzerking dwarf that Aethelweard had brought along found his head alone buried beneath a large rock, courtesy of Sam.
Trusting to the hobgoblin to conduct himself more honorably than the humans, Sam let him go, after purchasing the spellbook with Aethelweard's gold. The huge goblinoid fled into the night, while Faeradd and Tatyana eagerly pored over the spellbook of Tugren Halbot. Faeradd did not even need the spellbook, however, to translate the rune of the city. Knowing how all wizards write the rune that initiates the power draw of magic, Faeradd followed the streets, from the first stroke of the quill, to the last. He wound up in a small, secluded building on the edge of town. The floor was covered in dirt and snow, but he swept it all aside, revealing the runes of activation inlaid there. Pressing from left to right, and then bottom to top, he unlocked the runes of the four corners -- revealing steep stairs that went down into the earth.
Inside, they found a reptilian statue with wings, before the doors to the 'magic sink'. The whole of the city, according to the notes inside the last, small room, was designed to slowly pull magic into the room, and enchant whatever lay there. The creator of the city, and the room, had left during the Storm Wars, never to return to discover the fruits of his labor. There was a suit of enchanted, silent banded mail, a shield, and a sword -- all black as night, and all eerily silent.
In the morning, Faeradd sought to translate and understand all of Diagmonistar's notes and scrolls inside the room. Unfortunately for him, it turned out that the statue -- was alive. The magic sink had slowly brought life to the foul gargoyle, and it attacked Faeradd with gleeful bloodlust. The gnome managed to escape only by going invisible, and he screamed for help from his companions. Sam and Phoenix fought the foul creature with all the strength they had, but the could barely damage the stone statue. Sam even tried valiantly to wrestle with the creature, but he was getting nowhere.
Phoenix's obscuring mist let her and Faeradd escape out of the underworld room -- only to be confronted by the hobgoblin they had let loose, and a small army of goblins.
Sam continued wrestling with the creature, deep within the earth, but he could not let go, lest it attack him in return. He was suddenly rescued by hordes of goblins descending into the mist. They helped hold the creature of stone long enough for Sam to batter it to pieces with his great two-handed sword.
Talking through Sam and Oorhl, the hobgoblin explained that his debt of gratitude was almost paid. He left a gift for them that would hopefully ease their passage through goblin-held lands. It was a human skull inlaid polished gems in the eye sockets, and with a candle sconch inside the cranium. The glowing eyes would herald them as having earned safe passage from the hobgoblins, whose hold over the goblins is strong.
Faeradd spent one more day studying the scrolls and runes of Diagmonistar, as well as a day of healing.
It is Dasad the 19th of 1327 Avard.
Oorhl, male goblin Rog1: CR 1; Size S (3 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 1d6; hp 6; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+1 Dex, +1 Size, +1 leather armor, +1 buckler, +1 ring of protection); Attack +0 melee (morningstar, 1d8-1, crit 20 x2), or +4 ranged (hornet dagger, 1d4+2, rang inc 20, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +0; AL N; Str 8, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 10, Cha 8. Languages Spoken: Goblin. Skills and feats: Bluff +3, Craft (woodworking) +2, Diplomacy +3, Hide +5, Intimidate +3, Intuit direction +4, Listen +6, Move silently +5, Pick pocket +3, Read lips +4, Spot +2, Swim +3; Alertness. Possessions: [ring of protection +1 (2,000 gp)]*, Amaran hornet dagger (32,000gp). *Confiscated.
Oorhl is motivated by self protection, and a growing sense of loyalty towards the party. Outcast from the goblin clan he called home, and further afraid of the Amarans, he feels somewhat comfortable with the outcast gnome, and the goblin-speaking human known as 'Sam'.
Tatyana Hellis, female human Clr4: CR 4; Size M (5 ft., 3 in. tall); HD 4d8-4; hp 23; Init +7 (+3 Dex, +4 Improved initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 leather armor); Attack +3 melee (morningstar, 1d4+1, crit 20 x2), or +6 ranged; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +6; AL Ng; Str 11, Dex 16, Con 8, Int 7, Wis 15, Cha 9. Languages Spoken: Common. Skills and feats: Concentration +6, Hide +3, Innuendo +4, Knowledge (arcana) +2, Listen +2, Move silently +3, Spot +2; Brew potion, Extra turning, Improved initiative. Possessions: prayerbook of Lul, holy symbol of Lul (made of steel), diary, ink and quill, map to the ruins of Olmarthau.
Tatyana is a young woman a long way from home. A nervous lady with a strong faith, she is finding her way in the world of religious politics and survival. With a quiet voice, she dutifully follows the commands of the party.
DM Notes: Seboran Rosaski is a member of the Order of Devon -- a small group of devotees to Brigain, and the legend of the Princess Sword. Seboran was sent by the head of the order to investigate the gnome and the Black Rock Merc; there is a possibility that events taking place in Vridara are precursors to the return of the Princess Sword, and its legendary wielder, William Devon.
The goblins are under the control of seven hobgoblin kings, each of which is sworn to some darker force deep within Amaran territory. The hobgoblin kings are somewhat honorable, but seek the extinction of the Amarans, in addition to whatever glories they might gain against all the humans of Vridara. The barbarians of the Tarsis Forest are seeing heavy goblin and hobgoblin excursions into their territory, but centuries of ill will with the Amarans has left them bigotted and uncompromising. Though the skull the party bears might get them through hobgoblin territories, it will make them enemies of the Amarans.
Seeker Devray continues to hunt the party, though their foray into Amaran territory is forcing him to work through his Sleepers -- and puts him nearly two weeks behind the party. Imperial Guardsman Toth has sent a squad of his best hunters to the Ruins of Olmarthau, where he thinks they could have headed for shelter and rest. In the meantime, Devray and Toth have holed up in For'Dulhae to await word from their hunters -- along with nearly a dozen other Imperial Guardsmen, and close to a thousand Imperial Footmen.
Cali-bras has rescued Moon Break, and the two have set about to find Travis Duraset and enlist his aid. Travis has moved to the capital, Trevit, to investigate the origins of the Firelight family, and hopefully track down 'an elven clan' that was brought into Imperial custody just south of Lamental.
Toth's Hunters: human Rgr2: CR 2; Size M (5 ft., 3 in. tall); HD 2d10+2; hp 21; Init +7 (+3 Dex, +4 Improved initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+3 Dex); Attack +5 melee, or +5 ranged; SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +2; AL NG; Str 16, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 15, Cha 15. Languages Spoken: Vridaran. Skills and feats: Animal empathy +7, Craft +6, Heal +5, Hide +8, Knowledge (nature) +6, Listen +2, Move silently +3, Ride +6, Spot +6; Improved initiative, [Track], weapon finesse (shortswords).
Sevious and Durcol are from disparate parts of Vridara, but they are quiet, efficient trackers and hunters. Although technically mercenaries, they see their job as a small part of their calling to serve Elinthar.
Seboran Rosaski: male human Pal2/Ftr3: CR 5; Size M (5 ft., 7 in. tall); HD 2d10+4 + 3d10+6; hp 38; Init +4; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+5 chain mail); Attack +7/+5 melee (scimitar, 1d8+2, crit 19-20 x2)/(sabre, 1d6+2, crit 19-20 x2), or +5 ranged (dirks, 1d4+2, range incr 10ft, crit 20 x2); SV Fort +11, Ref +4, Will +6; AL NG; Str 14, Dex 10, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 16. Languages Spoken: Common, Vridaran. Skills and feats: Craft +6, Diplomacy +8, Handle animal +9, Heal +7, Hide +0, Jump +7, Listen +2, Move silently +0, Ride +2, Spot +2, Swim +7; [Ambidexterity], Alertness, Combat reflexes, Endurance, Improved initiative, [Track], Two-weapon fighting.
Seboran was a paladin of Brigain until he learned of the Order of Devon. Giving up his vows of paladin-hood, he became a tracker and a worker of Brigain's will through the Order. Knowledgeable and intelligent, he will throw in with the party simply because they oppose the Empire.