After accepting work with the Cairn Hills Militia and purchasing gear with their signing bonuses, our heroes set out for their new post at Blackwall Keep. They arrived without incident, though they found that the keep itself was already full with more traditional soldier-types. Captain Raynard Pembroke instead encouraged the unusual party of adventurers to stay in the nearby village and keep an eye out for trouble the surrounding area.
Rather than stay at the more expensive but oddly cheerless Golden Grain Inn, the group chose to stay at the Inn of the Slumbering Serpent. They spent some time at the inn, speaking to fellow customers and drinking the fine wine. Keyrock in particular made an impression with some of the locals.
On advice from the innkeeper, the group went to visit an old hermit on the edge of town. While he seemed to know something about the odd goings-on in the village, and the group seemed to make a favorable impression, it was clear they had yet to earn his trust. To that end, they decided to do something of value for the village. There was talk of planting a garden, but in the end the group opted instead to visit the surrounding areas and look for goblins to slay.
The surrounding area turned out to be full of danger, and the group learned a great deal about running away. First, they ran from a group of centaurs who pretended not to notice them. Then, they ran from a large band of ogres, which everyone agreed was the right thing to do. Later, the group found some goblins, as they had set out to do, but realized that 37 goblins also necessitated some running away. Finally, when they came upon a den of giant spiders, the group made their stand.
After casting all of their spells in the first round and discovering that a sleep spell can be a valuable asset, the heroes let their animals do all the fighting. While this tactic did work, it was not without its cost. One of Keyrock’s dogs was nearly crushed by a giant spider and died instantly. Another of the dogs died from poison. Tyrannyth’s viper familiar nearly died, but managed to escape with minor damage to his senses. The biggest loss was poor Simba, Keyrock’s lion cub, who survived the loss of an eye only to die an hour later from spider venom poisoning. In an attempt to scare away any future totem animals, Keyrock skinned the poor lion cub and spent the rest of the adventure carrying around the bloody, uncured hide.
Fortunately, the spiders left some valuable trinkets in their den, and the group collected their treasure and returned to the village. Keyrock found some new dogs, others wasted their money on drunken adventures, and after venturing back into the wilderness on foot and running away from a number of other monsters (including a gorgon and a band of invisible pixies), everyone returned again to buy horses.
After speaking again to the hermit and consulting the spirits, the group decided their best bet at helping the village would be to try again at finding and slaying the goblins who supposedly live east of the village. To that end, they once again set out to the east. This time, they found a ravine with a series of caves. As they moved to investigate the caves, they were ambushed by a gang of kobolds, and Val the witch was struck down. The group immediately killed one kobold in such a violent manner that the others turned to flee. Before they could act, however, Nathaniel caused them all to fall into a magical sleep, and the group killed every last one of them. Val survived, though the kobold’s javelin had taken her in the face, and she suffered gruesome scarring that will forever affect her dealings with others.
After the battle, the group found a cave entrance near the kobolds’ hiding place, and we left them as they considered their next move.