The spiders he could outrun on the horse but by the time the troll was resolved, his horse was tired and could do nothing more than trot (barely) - which meant the troll could/should be able to eat and devour him. With the interest in Hobbit running strong as it was coming out in a few weeks, I decided to play a single game of "riddle" with him. Something I hadn't done in a very long time.
Long and short I would have killed the character if he did not answer the riddle correctly. Really - chomp chomp gulp. Instead I did have the troll give him a "magic sword" with dubious ability and usefulness. This is a lynch pin item that will come up as time goes on, and the paladin will be both happy and frustrated as hell with the "sword".
Write up follows:
It was Birthmonth the 3rd around 4 PM when we had mounted up, gathered our charges and belongings, and headed back to Shakun. For the most part the trip was without issue; however there was a single instance where the horses had been on edge and our ranger, Chase, informed us that wolves were shadowing our party. However as we were 10 in number and imposing, the pack (small) kept their distance and we left them behind without issue.
It was around 7 when we returned to Shakun and our first visit (after taking care of Johan, Codron, and Thrish) was to go to the Herbalist and immediately talk to her about the Hadesnium and what we had learned. Sure enough, the iridescent ground up mineral was the poisonous substance and we needed to get rid of it quickly. Where? How?
Fergus stepped up to the plate and offered to ride it out to one of the nearest caves and throw the bag of Hadesnium in it. It was not the best situation, but it would have to do. Before he left, we did some tests on the mineral and verified that it was NOT magical and the detection of poison did not identify it either (although strangely enough, both Enthir and the Herbalist did show themselves to be slightly poisoned). Lastly, the herbalist kept a small portion of the mineral in a thin lead container and would be keeping it sealed and away – but available should the group need it for any reason in the future.
Fergus then took his deadly bundle and ran out into the twilight, on the back of his steed and travelling with as much haste as possible. The cave he was looking for was over 2 miles from town and off the western road somewhere to the south. He had scouted it with Chase earlier in the week and had a fairly good idea on where to find it.
During his ride off the road though he ran afoul of some rather large spiders. Closer to 3’ tall they chased him and his mount for a while until he outdistanced them, pushing his steed to maintain a full gallop longer than expected. Winded and lathered, they arrived at the cavern – a cleft in the earth that went down at least 40’ with no signs of inhabitants. He tossed the bag in and then continued his ride, this time not back the way he came but more circuitous to avoid the spiders.
The horse could not keep a pace faster than a slow trot so Fergus let it have its head, a torch lit and held high in his hands. It was then he heard a voice in the gloom call out, “Traveler? Where are you going?” A feeling washed over him as he detected evil and it was a slick greenish miasma in his mind. Damn it – alone in the darkness on a tired horse and something was pacing him.
He bandied back and forth with whatever it was and it wanted to eat either him (juicy sweet!) or his horse – either one was ok. As Fergus tried to ride on and avoid conversation it grew wroth and hurled rocks and insults – some of the stones were VERY large, maybe 9 or 10 inches across. It said its name was Forthan and wanted to riddle with Fergus. If he guessed it– he would be allowed to ride on without issue. If he did not, Forthan would eat him OR his horse!
Fergus could not risk riding the horse any faster and the stones would lame the beast if he tried to run. So he stopped and agreed but only if Forthan would sweeten the deal. So the figure said he would throw in a magic sword as well. Really? It stepped closer into the light and brandished a blade shouting “Magic sword” and the sword burst into bright blue fiery light. The figure Forthan was a 9’ tall rangy and green skinned troll! The paladin swallowed with worry, knowing that the troll could devour him should it get close enough.
The riddle went, “Made of stone or wood or brass, iron, copper, gold or glass. A little man or beast or tree. Frozen for eternity.”Fergus was nervous for a while but within the 5 minute time frame he said, “Statue?” – and Forthan sighed and tossed him the sword – warning him he should go and go now while the troll could still remember his promise.
Fergus rode off and eventually reached the road and returned to Shakun, alive but terrified over his solo ordeal.
Meanwhile the rest of the group had gone to Castle Canastal and met with Baron Taugis, filling the nobleman in on the situation to date as well as the threat of Hadesnium. We talked for a while and came away with some resolutions: 1) no one was to go back to the “dragon cave” and upset either the goblins within or the dragon that was there. 2) The party should go the cavern where Malven was and rescue the elves within. A reward of 100 crowns would be paid for the saving of the elves there. Finally a missive would be sent to Woodhelven, detailing the situation and asking them for aid or the possible use of any dragon slayers that might be in the area.
From there we then returned to the herbalist who had an elixir for Enthir to drink (to help combat the radiation illness) and to ask where we could learn about who locally would grow Yarrow. It was a very specific plant that required care to nurture and the goblins did need it. It was hinted that someone maybe here near Shakun was selling/trading it to the goblins or goblin benefactors and we wanted to know who it was and how to interrupt it. She said there were maybe 4-5 people and would research it for us.
The party went back to the Hall of Heroes where the tucked in for the night and made ready to ride off to the last goblin cave tomorrow morn.
We awoke early on the 4th, broke our fast, and left by 9 AM, deciding NOT to take the stable boy or the fighters this time. It was a long walk to the last cavern and we didn’t get there until just after 2 in the afternoon. There were some tribal markings on the hill as well as a standard that Chase assured us was that of a goblin tribe or clan of growing strength. The cave opening was obvious and we noted lots and lots of … chicken feathers. All over the hilltop. In addition, there was scat, which Flimflam told us was most likely goat.
Fist’al went in and checked out the entrance – steep steps went down some 20’ into the earth and then opened to a larger area that eventually sloped away. He followed it for a while but disturbed some stones on the ground and in the slope they clattered for a time until stopping and then he heard a tapping sound from below. Tap..tap..tap-tap-tap. Not wanting to make any noise he returned to the surface and filled us in on the situation. We all went in next, this time with light and torches.
There were lots of marking on the walls and we guessed over 40 goblins marked the area. There were also some strange goat like symbols on the wall, half a dozen of them. On the wall were 3 large oaken doors, each with a wheel mounted to the 4 corners – making them into a large but crude cart. We left the doors on the wall and travelled down.
We arrived at an area where stones had been scattered across the floor, making it a simple method for announcing that intruders were coming. How to get past? We opted for bedrolls laid across the rocks and then walking across the bedrolls. We did hear the tapping eventually from below again, tap..tap..tap-tap-tap. This time we responded the same pattern along the wall and goblin voices called from below (in goblin) that were we the supplies? Flimflam answered, “yes!” and we were invited down.
It was on getting closer that the situation became obvious to the goblins and one of them made to run, leaving only a 3 count to face us as well as a goblin camp dog. We hit the goblins swiftly and took them out while Marcus hit another one with a Charm spell and we had another goblin friend and font of information. He was Goelarid and told us that Malven was here. He was a follower of Hades and he had other priests/shamans as well. There was someplace called the “temple” and another place called “the elf room” but both were far inside.
It was then that we decided to try and lure the goblins outside and some of the party was heading up the slope to leave when they heard noises of rumbling from above and goblin voices cheering as they came in our direction fast. Goelarid informed us that it was the supplies and the group readied weapons to surprise the slope riding visitors.