Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dorben, Entry 5 ---27th Mirtul--- Camping, evening addendum

Adventure Journal of Dorben Wainfoster

-27th Mirtul, 1377, Year of the Haunting

---Hmm, well. I half expected to be returning to the village with reports of dead goblins by now but there seems to have been a slight twist in events. On a stroke of good news, our group is back to full strength plus one at the moment. We were tending our wounded after the fight with the other wayward adventurers and contemplating what to do about the goblins locked in their “vault” when Euphestas teleported into the cavern, accompanied by a young elven woman in hunters leathers. Bit of a start for a moment but we recognized our young gnome friend right off. It took only the matter of a few moments’ conversation to explain that Zolven had sent this new companion, Illandria by name, along to bolster our ranks. Illandria appears to be of the moon elf bloodlines and I must admit her age is almost impossible to determine other than “young adult” which covers roughly a span of three centuries or so as I understand it. Ah well, no need to look the gift ranger in the teeth, eh? She gets along with the rest of the group well enough and the more hands, the faster the work, as they say.

It took some pantomime and several bits of jerky, but we got the young cub led out of the caves. It helped that Aedron was doing the leading and the horse sized kitten seemed just as attracted to Aedron’s fur armor shirt as its big relative outside. That oversized kitty all but trampled several of us when it heard Snowcat call from the cave mouth. I tried speaking with Snowcat again, in hopes of learning more about the region and Snowcat itself. I went so far as to use a Comprehend Languages scroll I forgot I had among my things. That scroll could just as well have stayed forgotten, for all the good it did. Snowcat may be smart enough to understand Common and Uluik, but she apparently does not have the vocal apparatus to form humanoid speech. Waste of a perfectly good scroll, blast it all! Ah well, we live and learn on this trail of life. Snowcat seemed to indicate that she was grateful and then she and cub loped away.

While I wasted time trying to communicate with Snowcat, back in the cavern, Euphestas had put the time to better use to examine and sort through the equipment left on the dead adventurers. He’d separated those things which his spells showed to be magical and had also made appraisal of the normal equipment. There were several master quality weapons and some armor but little that any of us could put to use at the moment. We wrapped the bodies in their cloaks and blankets and bundled them tight off to one side so we could retrieve them on our way out of the caverns later. We had a short discussion of the proper disposition of the dead and agreed upon a proper funereal pyre as soon as we had the chance. Many Tempus worshippers favor the funeral pyre and burning of the dead is the preferred system hereabouts. I would think the preference is most likely as a result of the extensive use of undead in the Witch King’s army back during the days of that shadowed reign.

We spent a good deal of time examining the wall we knew the goblins were hiding behind. Search as we might, we could find no means to open the wall from our side. This would make sense in the case of a retreat position I suppose. One does not leave the means of opening the portcullis and lowering the drawbridge on the outside of the castle, after all. Thinking that other tunnels might lead us around the obstacle, we set to exploring the rest of the caverns.

We found a “wet” cavern where there appeared to be a trickle of fresh water feeding a small pool and another cavern that seemed to be used as a common area. We also noticed that these tunnels seemed to have been recently excavated. It appears the tunnels fill up with silt and mud when the thaws come and flood the valley and they have only recently been dug out. One of our odder finds was that the walls of one tunnel were definitely not at all like the others. The walls of most of the cavern system were rough stone, either by nature or from crude excavation. We found one stretch of tunnel wall that was quite smooth and looked to be dead plumb straight for the entire length and height we could see. The stone also appeared to be a different type altogether. We found what looked to be one corner just a bit further back. Just a rough extrapolation of the distance between the wall of the valley behind us and this corner, this could be sizeable structure we’d stumbled across here. And the stonework itself looked to be virtually flawless. If this is conventional stone block construction, then the seams are for all intents and purposes invisible. So perhaps the goblins have found some old dwarven redoubt and taken up residence? But how long have they been here? How much might they have learned from any dwarven lore left behind? We were quickly finding out these were not everyday goblins.

Upon further exploration of the caverns we soon began finding evidence that these goblins were more advanced than any of us had encountered before. They did not appear to be living in the squalor one normally expects from goblins. No, in fact, their supplies were stored on shelves built into what appeared to be a kitchen alcove and the common area was actually fairly tidy. Comment was made about these being out of the ordinary goblins and it turned out I was not the only one to recall seeing a blue goblin amongst their numbers. Nia pointed out that blue goblins use the psionic mind magic disciplines. I’d heard of psionics here and there in my travels but this was the first I’d heard of psionic goblins. Can’t say as I’m pleased with the idea. As if the little blighters weren’t dangerous enough in sheer numbers, now we find out some of them may be geniuses? Just bloody wonderful. This whole Blue thing just adds another twist to the tale. I had also been thinking it might be possible that these goblins could be serving a stronger, more organized leader. Perhaps this Blue is their leader? But it was not the one that seemed to be barking orders. We’ll just have to find out.

Leaving the “common” area, we found a tunnel with traps worked into the walls. Euphestas and Sa’d spotted the wires and their analysis of the trap led them to believe the wires would most likely pull down whole sections of the tunnel walls if they were tripped. Such a messy proposition didn’t seem conducive to our further exploration so our trap masters disabled the devious devices. We found what appeared to be the goblins’ treasure chamber beyond the trapped tunnel. There we found several strong treasure chests, a cabinet and several piles of loose treasures and a stack of bloodstone bars. This made me again suspect a possible stronger overseer or warlord relationship might be going on here as this was quite a haul for a tribe of goblins. And why store it away? It seemed just too conveniently laid out and we believed it could very well be another trap. So other than a cursory inspection we left the treasure where it lay and continued on.

We were leaving the “treasure cavern” along another tunnel and found more trap triggers set to collapse the walls. These goblins seemed to be nothing if not thorough. Again, our trap masters disabled the tripwires. We were just about to move on when Nia whispered to me that she had heard the sound of several clicks from the treasure cavern behind us. Nia and I were toward the rear of our march so we quietly passed notice up the line. The tunnel led to the common room. Euphestas and Sa’d quickly moved back around through the other tunnel. They spotted the lid of one of the chests closing on its own. The rest of the party made our way round to the first entrance of the treasure cavern as well. Aedron picked up the chest in question. I had half expected to see a tunnel entrance below a false chest but it turned out to be just a chest. Kaliki knocked on the lid as she said something in what I guessed was Gobbli. She and Euphestas translated later what was said. She had basically told whatever goblin was inside the chest that we knew it was in there, so it may as well come out.

The lid opened to reveal a rather nervous looking goblin with a death grip on a loaded crossbow. We ascertained that his name was Bahgo and he was some kind of lookout. Kaliki’s questions only got so far and then the goblin demanded that Aedron set the chest down. That seemed to calm Bahgo a bit; at least enough that the crossbow stopped visibly shaking. I think I was not the only one to notice that Bahgo also had what appeared to be a reddish item stashed in the chest with him. He seemed to indicate (and our Gobbli speakers later confirmed) that he was ready to smash the item with his hammer if we gave him trouble. That was his job and he was willing to do it, he said. The implication seemed to be that smashing the item would cause an blast that would hit all in the treasure cavern and possibly even collapse the cavern itself. We tried to convince Bahgo that it would be in everybody’s best interest if he could convince his tribe to come out from behind the wall where they were hiding so we could all talk. He would have none of it. Said that it was his job to stay there and he couldn’t leave his post.

I believe by that time, most of us had come to the same conclusion. The goblin tribe was holed up in a stronghold we could not breach at present and the only way to carry out our mission was to “play nice” with the little buggers. So we told Bahgo that we would leave so that the “emergency” would be over and his comrades could come out of their hidey hole. Through the translators he said to call out as we passed the “vault door”, saying: “Bahgo said to tell Soren that we are leaving now but we want to talk to the leader.” Which we did.

So, that brings us to the present for the most part. We gathered up the bodies of the adventurers from earlier and headed for the outside. We thought of returning to the village but dusk was already rapidly approaching and it was agreed that we didn’t much care for the idea of stumbling back to the village in the dark. Also, we wanted to keep an eye on the goblins and their cavern. So we used the remaining daylight to appraise the area for a good campsite and to gather fuel and possibly food. Looking at the small rift valley where we found the cavern system, we realized that the valley and caverns could flood with water at short notice if there were a storm or a rapid thaw in the mountains above. Considering that spring seemed to be upon us, we thought it best to locate higher ground. A bit of climbing and we were out of the valley and atop the hill above the goblin caverns. Our campsite has a good view of the valley and the mouth of the goblin caverns are below us. There are enough trees for cover and fuel and we have several spots where our night watchers should be able to observe the valley without being easily spotted themselves.

Curiosity led us to explore our surroundings a bit and our explorations may have been somewhat fruitful. In fact, looking around with an eye educated from what we’d found below, we found a bit of a hump in the landscape that one wouldn’t even notice as out of place under normal circumstances. But seeing as how we had a rough idea of the location and possible size of the structure partially uncovered in the caverns below, we noticed that this slight rise was rather regular and symmetrical. It seemed possible that the structure below might be domed. Could the structure have been here so long that the landscape around had grown over it? Or, is it possible the rough stone below could be the result of an old lava flow? I have seen a few of the volcanic islands in the south of the Sea of Swords. There were stories of lava flows engulfing and burying buildings there. Perhaps one of the mountains in the range nearby was an active volcano in its younger days? Or, perhaps some powerful spellcaster called up a lava flow to engulf their enemies? Hmm, it is a conundrum. Now I want those goblins out of there so that I might explore the structure myself and slake my curiosity.

After setting up camp and deciding on a watch schedule, it was time to take care of our fallen foes. We carried them a respectful distance away and prepared their funeral pyre. I said what prayers there are for the quiet rest of a departed foe and we let the flames carry their mortal remains back to the elements.

Well, my full belly has comfortably settled and I’ve writ down the day’s events, as is my habit. So I must to bed now. My turn at night watch will come soon enough. By my Lady’s grace, I will write again soon.

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