Our heroes are ambushed shortly after sunset while looking for a place to set camp. Goblins announce their presence with a thrown shortspear and three melee attackers. The heroes handily defeat the goblins. To [:reyellin | Reyellin]’s surprise, one of the goblins, who was wielding an axe, seemed suddenly to recognize [:dergar | Dergar] just before being cleaved in two.
While opening a sack dropped by one of the goblins, they hear a sickening sound like flesh being torn from bone. They look in time to see that one of the goblins, the one who recognized Dergar, had transformed into a human! Dergar recognized him as one of his tribesmen – a warrior named [:tombar | Tombar]. Dergar felt a twinge of guilt for killing his fellow.
Meanwhile, opening the sack, Reyellin found a half-folk baby inside – his mouth stuffed with a dirty rag, and his face turning blue. Malicus immediately tended to the infant, and breathed a sigh of relief when the child started crying. Foraging in his element – the forest – Malicus found fresh water and berries to feed the child. They set camp for the night and rested fitfully.
Come morning, the party found sets of footprints coming from the east – presumably from the goblin ambushers. They initially were headed to the north toward the monastery of Vidalia. They also found one set of footprints headed northwest. Assuming it was from another goblin fleeing the fight the previous night, they followed the trail. Dergar was hoping to find the goblins and get some answers about his missing tribesmen.
The trail turned to the west, then followed a stream. By early afternoon, they found the trail led into a cave. Lighting a torch, they entered. Following the passage, they came to another ambush area – two ledges about shoulder height to either side of the passage. They made quick work of one foe, but failed to notice another hiding behind them until he shot at them with a crossbow. Curiously, Malicus decided to throw his torch farther down the passage, causing the fight to descend into darkness. Nevertheless, the battle continued.
Rendering one unconscious, and killing the crossbow shooter, they dragged all three outside the cave. Their captive seemed to be down for the count still, so they decided to go back inside – their concern being that there may be other children in danger. Dergar noticed that their torch was gone, as well as the crossbow. Knowing they had been discovered, they moved forward with haste.
They tracked recent movement down the tunnel branching off to the left. They saw a red light ahead of them, and decided to dowse their torch so as not to give away their presence. They came to a chamber with a statue of a grotesque demon standing behind a brazier. In front of the brazier was a goblin dressed in black robes covered in an ichorous substance. The goblin faced the statue as the party entered the chamber.
Suddenly, a crossbow bolt shot toward the party from behind them. It hit, but was only a glancing blow. Then, the black-robed goblin turned around and faced the heroes. He smiled and lifted his hands. The demon’s eyes glowed with an inky blackness, and a tar-like substance blasted out of the goblin’s hands toward the party. The black substance sunk into their skin and found its way into their bones, chilling them with an unnatural cold as their very souls were leeched away. Dergar and Reyellin were able to turn back the assault, but Malicus was injured.
Reyellin rushed into the chamber and sliced at the goblin shaman with her rapier and dagger. Her rapier struck true, but the goblin still lived. Dergar joined her assault, and, luckily, felled their foe. The crossbowman fired one more shot, then fled away from the chamber.
Tending their wounds, they were relieved to discover that whil the half-folk infant was hurt, their ministrations saved him. The rest of them were healed as well, and they discussed their next moves.
They found several pages made from bark with cryptic runes written in crude strokes. Based on the runes, the alchemical agents in the brazier, and the state of the demon idol, Malicus figured that the goblin shaman was performing some sort of ritual intended to divine some unknown information.