The party spent the evening in the crypt before descending the stairway below. Daygon offered to keep watch above as the rest of the party explored the cavern below.
Descending the stairs, the party came across an unusual collection of allies and strangers. The party first noticed Loretta, who had gone missing the morning before. Her neck was severely damaged by some sort of large animalistic bite leaving blood to trickle down. She was panting and appeared to be a little paler than normal. On the ground next to her was the body of Nightsire, former companion to the party. His head had been cleanly severed from its body and the party immediately noticed the horrific expression upon its face. Nightsire, a Tiefling, always had a demonic visage but it had now shifted into something even more vile. Large fangs were protruding from his lips and his eyes held an otherworldly light behind them.
Standing a short distance from the duo was a young human adult. This stranger held an ornate long spear with decorations of wolves and moons upon it. Dangling by his side were various native charms and totems. Mysteriously, his hand rest to his side as if it was upon a loyal companion. He spoke in a subdued voice, “Smoke, keep an eye on them”. When the party questioned who Smoke was, a shimmering figure of a wolf appeared next to one of the party. The wolf was predominately insubstantial, though no one wished to test this theory.
Loretta stepped forward to explain the situation. She claimed that her mistress had summoned her to this place and that once she arrived she was attacked by Nightsire. Even now, she explained, she could feel the infection getting stronger and knew that her time was short. The stranger had come to her aid, though from where she did not know. The stranger stepped forward graciously and introductions were about to be made when Loretta asked that the body of Nightsire be destroyed. From her tone it was apparent that she feared the body might rise again. The party took stock of their surroundings. They were upon an island in a sea of darkness. No walls could be seen from their meager torches and any attempt to locate the walls were met with silence. It was suggested that Nightsire’s body be thrown off the side, a suggestion to which Loretta vehemently opposed. “The body must be burned” she said.
Winterwolf stepped forward and the party moved out of the way. Raining down flame upon the body and head of his former companion, Winterwolf brought the body to ashes. As the last flames smoldered the body of a fallen companion, Loretta turned to Jett and Winterwolf. She mouthed to them “I’m sorry” and turned and ran to the edge of the island. Without hesitation she launched herself into the darkness, a porcelain swan fading into the darkness. Many of the party rushed to the edge to see her descent. Concentrating on the darkness enveloped the party in silence.
Suddenly Winterwolf roared a challenge of both regret and terror as he suddenly spun around, poisonous gas emanating from his mouth. Some in the party ducked for cover while others seemed oblivious to their surroundings. Florentine stepped forward and masterfully ended Winterwolf’s terror, though shortly after a look of confusion and surprise crossed his Fey features. Saileach stepped back to tend to Winterwolf’s injuries, though each step looked like he was carrying the weight of a mountain. The party turned to find themselves besieged by vermin. Some rats as large as dogs charged forward to confront the surprised party while swarms of vermin poured out of the ground.
Shock had set in leaving the party nearly defenseless. Within the span of but a few moments they had lost one companion over the edge of the cliff, another had been gutted by a comrade, and the third still lay smoldering on the ground.
Yet a new threat had emerged from the darkness. All forms of vermin now surrounded the heroes blocking all forms of retreat. Left with no other choice but to battle their way out, the party drew weapons and stepped forward.
Saileach immediately ran to the side of Winterwolf, who lay dying from a mortal blow inflicted by Florentine. He knelt to do his best, though he did not have the resources required to stop the bleeding. Suddenly, the translucent wolf appeared near them and Winterwolf suddenly gasped. Somehow this spirit had allowed Winterwolf to dig deep inside and find his inner strength. Seeing this, Saileach stood and moved forward, his visage shifting to resemble his nickname “Old Man Willow”.
Florentine danced between the enemies leaving small cuts and dead vermin in his path. One large creature lashed out, leaving a festering wound. Florentine stumbled, through he regained his step.
Winterwolf rose to find himself besieged by a swarm of rats. The rats clawed their way up his robes forcing him to retreat. But then an opportunity presented itself, the swarm got too close to the edge of the cliff. Seeing an opportunity Winterwolf called upon his most powerful magics and cast them upon the swarm. Blasted to the edge, the swarm nearly fell to its doom but held on at the last moment. Digging deeper, Winterwolf pulled enough energy to push them one more time. This time, the rats tumbled off of the cliff.
The stranger defended himself against a large rat, plague dripping from its mouth. The spiritual wolf ran through the crowds to defend its apparent master. The apparition must have been powerful for try as the rats might they could not damage it. Though the stranger carried a weapon, he did not use. Instead strange energies lashed out to strike the foes.
Jett stood to the side bringing forth holy lightning to strike down the beasts. His strikes were ineffective against the large swarms, though the larger vermin screamed in pain.
The heroes were victorious, though they paid a heavy price. Florentine nearly fainted as the party took stock, and the stranger rushed to his aid. The stranger moved swiftly and cleaned the infected wound. Finally, introductions were made. The stranger called himself “Frost” and referred to his companion as “Smoke”. When asked how he arrived in the cavern below, his response was short… “Eagle brought me”. An invitation was extended for him to join the group as he has proven himself an ally. Frost accepted, though his reasons remained his own.
The horrors of the cave outweighed the knowledge that could be gained and the party made the decision to return to the crypt. As they emerged they found the crypt empty, their packs had been neatly stacked off to the side. Florentine immediately went to the doorway to see if there was any sign of their sentry, Daygon. Florentine called for silence, someone was coming down the hallway…
Florentine cracked open the door and peaked out. He was relieved to see a familiar face, Victor, one of Tempest’s many militia members. Victor walked with the confidence of a man who had seen many battles and was taking no precautions to silence his coming.
Victor explained that the village elders were worried about how long the process was taking and sent him to check on things. Knowing there was a good chance to even a few score with the Goblins, Victor had not problem with checking in on the party.
The group packed up and descended further into the mountain. Knowing that time was of the essence, the party sent Florentine out ahead to scout while the rest trailed only a few dozen meters behind. Florentine raised a hand calling for silence and moved ahead. The path opened up to a large cavern and running water could be heard. Across a small rope bridge a group of goblins tended to a much larger chieftain. Though injured, he still appeared to command respect from those around him.
A plan was set up to sneak into the cavern and hide behind some natural walls. The group moved forward when suddenly Winterwolf bellowed “I’m going right there!” All chances of a surprise had been lost.
A hard battle was fought. Some of the parties swifter combatants charged across the small bridge and were trapped on the other side as the Goblins moved to take the bridge. Fearing for their companion’s safety, Frost, Jett and Victor all attempted to jump the small river but only Frost was successful. The battle raged on and many blows were dealt. As the Goblins fell, the party concentrated on the chieftain. Suddenly an arrow struck the chieftain from the darkness. Then another. Florentine turned to catch a glimpse of a Hobgoblin high up on an outcropping. The Hobgoblin spat down towards the cavern then turned and disappeared down a path.
Triumphant, the party took stock of their surroundings. Apparently the Goblins were using this large cavern as their main base of operations. Following a thorough search, the party determined that there were four entrances to this cavern: The entrance they came from, the beginning of the river, the end of the river, and the ledge the Hobgoblin used. Florentine stepped forward with rope and tossed up on the ledge. As he prepared to climb, he gave it a tug and the rope came tumbling down. Perhaps in his Eladrin homeland ropes could simply be thrown wherever but in this reality they need to have some sort of grappling hook to stick. Frost pulled out climbing gear and carefully ascended the wall. He lowered a rope for the rest of the party and the scouts headed up first. Tracks from the Hobgoblin were obvious, as were multiple prints from some sort of wolf. Deeming that the trail would be lost if they did not immediately follow, the party advanced.