Riddles of the Road:
The next day comes and Dorian is no better off. Zook says he thinks he knows where his gear is but he needs the group to go with him. The group agrees to help Zook and they follow up to a kind of shallow cave. The entrance is booby trapped. The trap is sprung with some noise but the group gets by without much trouble. The entrance slopes to a hole straight down into the ground with a rotting rope ladder. After some debate the group descends into the darkness. To their surprise there is some light and it seems this is the ruins of some underground structure. They follow the light which turns out to be a candle and then a torch. The passageway with the torch leads to an area that smells very musty. Ithilwyn knows that musty spell comes from the deeper dark and they stumble upon some scat that indicates a creature that feeds in the Underdark. Delell picks some of the florescent mushroom there. Azalynn checks for tracks and finds there are no goblin tracks here at all, so they determine to go back. The light could be there for a couple of reasons, 1) to lead intruders to a dangerous area or to a dangerous foe or 2) to keep a creature from the Underdark at bay as often they shy away from light or both. The group goes back down the passageways until Azalynn picks up the trail of the goblins. She follows the tracks deeper into the structure and then eventually down carved pathways until they come upon the Goblin lair. The goblins know they are there and attack with crossbows from a defensible position. Ithilwyn and Azalynn use their bows to pick off the goblins as they show themselves, while brave Delell wades into the thick backed by Zook with healing and Rhiannon who is able to slow them with some sort of weakening effect. The goblins are fighting for their lair and they fight bravely. The barrel chested leader is formidable and brave but the group proves to be too much and he is felled. Only one female goblin and two of her vile brood are left. Rhiannon follows the female to the back cavern and starts to try to talk but then strikes her down, the whelps wailing. The group knows even a few goblins cannot be permitted to raise another tribe that will wreak havoc on travelers. Ithilwyn points out it is more merciful to end the whelps than have them die of thirst, starve, or be eaten and Azalynn, as a wise huntress who has put wounded animals down before, ends their crying. The group searches the area but finds nothing of consequence, so they search down the other pathway and find a storage room of sorts littered with the belongings of various travelers who likely met their untimely doom. Among these things, they find Zook’s items which he gladly dons again. And Ithilwyn has them bring out as much as they can carry. There are a number of swords, some armor and other provisions. They meet up with the gnome and the still unconscious Dorian. Dorian’s possessions are missing unbeknownst to the gnome who had snared a number of rabbits for food.
The group sets off on their arduous march towards Althbred. The pass by Kingsholm stopping briefly outside of the city for Rhiannon to replace her footwear with a pair of fine riding boots. They push on traveling steadily for almost 5 days. A couple of hours outside of Althbred, they come upon a murdered man. He looks burned from some kind of alchemical agents similar to the one the goblins had used before against the group. And there are crossbow bolts in his back. He has just been left there in the road. The group searches him and finds a letter telling of the dire position of the town and how they have all hidden. They also find a pulpy torn coded message that the letter says is the key to saving the remaining residents of the town.