A few days after the departure of the dwarven caravan, a commotion from the edge of the village drew everyone’s attention. A battered and bloody dwarven guard named Biran stumbled into the village along the northern road, and promptly collapsed. The village heroes quickly carried him to the longhouse. After some healing from Tarmo, Biran was able to relate his story. The recently departed caravan had been attacked by monstrous hobgoblins, on their second day out of Keflavik. These creatures had slaughtered most of the retinue, and Biran had barely escaped with his life. Another guard, Brunhild, had been taken prisoner. He pleaded with the humans for help in saving his compatriot and recovering the caravan goods.
After a brief conference with the village elders and a night’s rest, the village heroes set out with Biran toward the site of the ambush. After a full day’s travel, the group stopped and made camp. Biran assured them that it would only take a few more hours in the morning to reach the spot. At daybreak, the group covered the last dozen miles to the ambush site, and found wrecked wagons and the strewn bodies of the caravaners. For the seasoned hunters, finding the assailants’ tracks was not difficult.The group set off into the thinning woods in the mountain foothills, following sign of at least half a dozen assailants in hobnailed boots.
Moving quietly and cautiously, Kyr and Argvidr spotted a pair of figures hiding in a thicket at the base of one of the hills. As the group advanced, the two archers flanked the hiding hobgoblins, and sprung a surprise attack. One of the creatures fell immediately, but the other fled into a cleverly hidden hollow beneath the hill. The heroes pursued, finding a small cave system that had clearly been occupied for some time. Strange runes along the walls suggested it predated the hobgoblins by quite some time, but no one had the knowledge to translate the unfamiliar symbols.
As the group systematically worked their way through the various chambers, they encountered a hobgoblin who appeared to be the cook for the bandits. He surrendered in broken Dwarven, and the heroes locked him up in a small cavern that contained a few empty iron-barred cells. The cook, eager to appease the furious dwarf and his human allies, told all he knew of the small cave complex, including where to find the leader of the band. The group moved quickly down a side passage indicated by the chef, and found a larger, scarred hobgoblin barking orders at three others, one of which was clearly the wounded sentry from outside.
While Ulfbert charged forward and the archers picked off the leader’s minions, Tarmo and Adara unleashed blasts of magical fire. In short order, and with only a slightly singed Ulfbert to show for their labors, the heroes were victorious. Behind a hidden door in the leader’s chamber, they found Brunhild, battered but alive, chained up in a torture chamber. Freeing her and healing her most serious wounds, the group moved further into the complex in an attempt to find the lost caravan goods. It didn’t take them long to locate the supplies, but it would require a few hours to haul all of the goods back out and repair a wagon or two. Leaving the goods in place, they continued deeper into the caves hoping to drive out any remaining hobgoblins so that they could recover the goods safely.
Not far from the chamber holding all the caravan supplies, the heroes found a ravine, sign of some distant earthquake or tremor, splitting the passageway. Across a 10’ gap, they could see the hallway continue, but peering over the edge, they were dissuaded by an indeterminate drop…and the sudden scrabbling assault of a massive spider! The spider, nearly the size of an ox, came up the side of the ravine and lurched into the passage with them, fangs dripping. Already exhausted from their fight with the hobgoblins, it took all their strength to slay the hideous thing.