After spending an additional day in Mageswell, where Tiskus uncovers more information about the tablet fragment (namely that the dwarven symbol stands for the great God of Law, Kranrik), the group travels back to Felston in search of more coin prior to heading to the Onall Delta for the Festival of Ribbons (as well as the coincidental marriage of Delia and Lord Foeblade). An overdue shipment of jerky from the south nets them a job with Gruntorm Drunkseeker, who seeks information as to its whereabouts. Sans Telvas, who has a prior engagement with Red Lotus smuggler Fulmer, they head down the trade road, seeking out clues.
Before long, they discover sign that the jerky shipment wagon stopped at Waystattion Deer Horn, where it rendezvoused with a second wagon from the eastern hills. The wagon then headed directly westward, toward the Ribbons, the three estuaries feeding the Onall valley. The party finds the wagon abandoned at riverside, horses long gone, with plenty of goblin tracks about. However…
The group’s investigations reveal that the goblins literally walked right into the river, and across the bottom of it (evidently). Discovery of a pair of glass vials stuck in the river mud indicates magical potionage (which coincides with findings in Mageswell, of “scads” of missing water breathing potions obtained by a forged request from Csonka).
Though certainly curious about the overall picture, the party’s main focus is on the goblins. Thus, Finbaar turns turtle and makes his way across (slowly…). Once there, the druid of the deadly shillelagh finds obvious goblin sign. The rest of the group (to include retainer Shyk Wisecleaver), turn the wagon into a makeshift raft, then head across, clutching each other in semi-huddle fashion as the boat falls apart. They leap off the last rail just as it disintegrates, and everyone is on the far shore.
Once there, Rafos uses his Rangery skills to get them on the right path. But, with night coming on, and no sign of their quarry, they make a clever campsite in the evergreen forest west of the river. The night passes uneventfully. The morning, however, is another story….
While Tiskus is taking last watch, invisibly perched in a tree, he catches sight of a goblin group, with a few worg riders. With everyone else hidden and snoozing, he attempts to get their attention using a tossed pebble with a light spell on it. His aim is true, but not perfect. the party is awakened, but the goblins catch sight of the light. They stream over to investigate.
What follows is a complete goblin bashing, the kind that promotes hubris (as we shall soon see). Finbaar Stonefist delivers deadly blows with this shillelagh, while Rafos sprays arrows, Shyk provides cover and support, and TIskus does he best “death from above” leap onto the back of…nothing. The mage FLUMPHS to the ground, landing next to a somewhat surprised Worg.
A dozen dead goblins and 3 dead Worgs later, the party, having chased off the last two goblins, decides to make a stand in the wood where they are, with full knowledge that the goblins WILL be coming back, with reinforcements. What follows is more than they bargained for…
The goblin troupe they destroyed, evidently a scout group, belonged to a greater contingent. Over 30 goblins come back, supported by 3 Shaman casters. The party stands fast, taking down several members of the vanguard, only to be overwhelmed by their own sense of invulnerability. Surrounded and outmanned, they see no other recourse but to surrender. They are then stripped of their belongings and marched through the wood to The Rock, a large formation, out of which flows a gentle stream.
But within the rock, hidden inside its natural cave formations, lurks an old foe—Eldabon “Summer” Thorne, he of the Summer Gang. The obvious leader of the goblin encampment, which seems to consist of elements of several tribes, smiles broadly at this unexpected boon.