Episode 35: the Burden of Choice
The party continued to discuss their options: continue their quest to recover the shards of Bahamut and “Save the universe,” as Anansus the Trickster god described it, or further delay their search to find some way to liberate Whitebridge from the hordes of goblins and their hobgoblin taskmasters that had taken over the vacant town.
Ara argued loudly and earnestly for immediately attacking the goblins, proposing to go out and find them, or draw them into the temple and slaughter them one by one as they appeared. He was restless, and fidgety, and seemed intent on doing violence to as many creatures as possible.
Depsite Ara’s insistence, without access to their group teleport ritual and without having rested, the party decided it too risky to engage in any course of action, and prepared to sleep in the basement of the Temple of Syf. Before bedding down, they hid the bodies of the three slain hobgoblin captains in the cellar, and Magnus manifested an unseen servant to help clean up the bulk of the remaining blood and viscera in the main hall in an attempt to hide evidence of their presence.
Keen at first went to bed without putting on the Ring of Bliss, but Yuna noticed and convinced him it was the safest choice for all of them. Reluctantly he did so and upon donning the ring Keen’s eyes became unfocused, his features slackening into a beatific expression of peace; he was soon fast asleep.
Meanwhile Ara took the first watch, his nervous energy pouring into vigorous martial exercises. A couple of hours into his watch, Ara heard the sound of a coin hitting stone. He turned, and saw a gold piece laying next to Keen’s recumbent form. As he watched, several more coins appeared out of thin air, dropping with a plink to the stone floor. Coin after coin appeared, and soon the floor was littered with gold, silver and platinum coins. He scooped up handfuls of gold coins, stuffing his pouch, but still the coins came, their rate ever increasing.
Ara attempted to wake Magnus, but was unable rouse him, so woke Levani for help. Levani found herself and the rest of the party partially buried in coins. She realized immediately that this was likely a manifestation of Keen’s dreams, and woke him, whereupon after a moment all the coins – including the ones in Ara’s pouch – vanished.
Keen settled back into blissful sleep, and Ara finished his watch before Levani awoke to allow him to rest. Reluctantly he did so, settling eventually into a trance.
Levani’s watch was interrupted by goblin voices echoing through the main hall above the party. Using her magic she attempted to listen in, and caught snatches of a discussion between a goblin and a hobgoblin who were looking for the party. Thanks to their efforts at disguising their location, the goblins did not find them, but it was clear search parties were out and looking.
The party awoke just after Black Hour to a bitter cold winter night. Upon finishing his trance Ara revealed that he is struggling with dark impulses as a result of absorbing the power of the Fist of the North Wind, but so far has been able to contain it. Magnus, on the other hand, was extremely difficult to wake, and when at last he came around his face was a mask of horror, and he had lost the capacity for speech, as if some nightmare had fractured his psyche.
Levani and Ara related the events of the watch to the party, and together they resumed debating their next move. Levani was insistent that recovering the Dragonhead, and continuing the task appointed them by Anansus was the most pressing, and Keen agreed. Not willing to discuss it, Magnus stowed his gear and made ready to head into the town and engage the horde; only Yuna’s advice that they would need a plan stayed him.
Levani decided to try and gather information about the strength of the goblin forces, and using a polymorph spell she made a circuit of the town as a flock of ravens. Invisible against the night sky but also with limited vision, Levani found several points of martial strength throughout the town, with the largest concentration around the Mayor’s Residence. All told she counted many dozens of enemies, and those only the ones she could see.
Levani returned to the temple cellar and with this new information the debate continued until the sudden arrival of a bloodied and exhausted Jules, the dwarven rogue daughter of the owner of Greencrack Copper Mine, and who had briefly allied with the party to escape the mine when captured by kobolds months before.
Jules was looking for Ambriel, the acolyte of Syf who had left the evacuation and returned to Whitebridge in an attempt to protect the temple’s finery (and who was currently wearing the Hat of True Frog and tucked safely in Yuna’s pack). She quickly told the party of the events leading to the occupation since the party had last seen her: having returned to her family mines to try and find a way to rout the kobolds, Jules had instead discovered a horde of goblinoids, led by militaristic and intelligent blue-skinned hobgoblins had already invaded from the Underdark. They had slain or subjugated the remaining kobolds, and were planning a new assault on Whitebridge. Jules escaped the mines and brought warning to the town’s leaders, who eventually decided to abandon the town and make for Long Drop, a nearly two week journey west, to the edge of the Thorimfel Plateau. Jules had led the evacuation and the townsfolk were several days out of Whitebridge on the main road when Masym, the Holy Mother of the Temple of Syf had realized Ambriel had turned back. Jules chased after him, only to find the goblins already here, and roving parties searching for a band of resistance.
Jules formulated a plan to try and assassinate the leader of the horde, who she suspected was in the Mayor’s residence. Despite earlier arguing they should leave, Keen was eager to help Jules, as were Magnus, Ara and Yuna. Realizing her chances of escape were slim if the party stayed behind, Levani reluctantly agreed to help also.
Together with Jules they began to hastily plot a plan to draw away the bulk of the forces from the Mayor’s house, to allow Jules and Keen to sneak in, find the Hobgoblin Overlord, and kill him.
Dream-Manifested Goliath Barbarians: 0
Violent Inner Conflict Rating: Delightful
Deadly Encounters Avoided: 3
Deadly Encounters Pending: Several?
RP Rating: Awesome!