Upon leaving the Temple of Bahamut, Heiros was suddenly and mysteriously called away by a member of his order. While deep in mourning for the departure of their comrade, a dwarf ran up to the group. Introducing himself as Tordek, the dwarven fighter, he informed the group that he was on a mission by the dwarven lord Ohrgrem Stoutshield to stop the goblin warlord. Having heard from the head priest of the temple that you had been outfitted for such a mission, he humbly asked if he could join the group on their perilous quest. From there, the group parted ways to start coming up with a plan to find and gain entrance to the Goblin Hold. Tryn discovered from the Sheriff that the warlord Gyss was holed up in a place that used to be called Nen Lake Hold and possessed an army of 500, and advised against a group of 5 trying to take on such a large force. Seeing that they would not be deterred, he sent Tryn and Andraste to seek a shaky deputy named Warren, who was the only survivor of the last attack on the Goblin Hold. Andraste’s quick mind and diplomatic manner were a great help when talking to the hapless deputy, who told her about the ironclad goblin tactics: when faced with a small force the goblins would send the entire force to crush them, if faced with a larger force they would withdraw behind the walls and set fire to a patch of burning pitch that lay on the upward slope of a field that led to the only entrance! Knowing it would be no mean feat to get into these fortifications, they headed to the library to learn more about the hold and the geography of the land.
In the meantime, Styx and Tordek went to the market district to see if they could learn anything about the goblin raids. It turned out that a local merchant had been having his shipments regularly raided by the goblins over the last month. He suggested that he might be able to set up carts with false bottoms that the heroes might hide in and be taken into the hold when the caravan was raided yet again. Tryn, Andraste, and Bristlethurn combed the library and learned that the field in front of the hold wrapped around to the east and met up with the Nen Lake. All to the east was hill country and woodland. They also discovered that the hold was originally constructed by a Paladin of Pelor named Orland, who created greater and greater defenses the closer one got to the final room of the hold. Alas, Orland went quite mad during his stay at Nen Lake Hold, and eventually would not even leave the main room. When he died his goods were interred in the capitol of Mantiben, all except his axe, which was never found. The hold itself, they discovered, was abandoned after the construction of the white walls, because there were no longer threats in the east for the military to guard Mantiben from.
With knowledge as their ally, the group began to come up with their strategy. Though the merchant’s offer was generous, ultimately the group decided to set up a decoy caravan with boxes of rocks marked ‘Food’ and barrels of water marked ‘Wine.’ While the goblins were raiding this decoy shipment, they would approach the hold and enter it while it was unguarded. Closing the gates behind them, they could assassinate Gyss while the army tried in vain to get in. Finally they would set the pitch alight, taking a rope down the east wall into the forrest while the goblin army burned.
It was a two day trek on the Trade Road until the group neared the Old Hills, then another day moving through the rolling hill country. Finally on the morning of the fourth day they came across the Goblin Hold, sitting on a hill just as it had been described with the dark patch of pitch still set out in the field in front of the hold. As they came to the entrance to the hold, a long archway through the thick walls, Tryn grew trepidatious about possible hazards that might wait for them in the corridor. Scanning high and low, she realized that there was a portcullis at the opening of the arch, and that the goblins had ‘improved’ it by sharpening the ends to hurt whomever it fell on. Tryn, Styx, and Tordek decided to jump past where the portcullis fell, in case there were a panel that triggered its fall. Though Styx and Tryn deftly jumped past the square, Tordek came up short; the portcullis came slamming down upon him, grazing his shoulder as he barely jumped out of the way. The heroes looked down the long gate, could there be someone watching?
The group pushed through the long gate and found it was actually a series of three portcullises that were being controlled by concealed creatures in the courtyard. Using strength and athletic prowess, they pushed through, and Styx and Tordek made it into the courtyard to see who was trying to keep them out while Bristlethurn and Tryn used the final portcullis for cover. Styx discovered the courtyard contained three bugbears, a dire wolf, and a goblin leader riding it! Rushing to get to the bugbear in the back, another bugbear smashed Styx while he passed. Tryn fired bolts from the portcullis while Andraste suddenly disappeared from the portcullis and reappeared in the courtyard. The heroes fought bravely, but the bugbear’s strong attacks passed their defenses and numerous times brought them close to falling. Tordek stood between some of the bugbears and Styx, defending him with his shield so that he would not fall despite his heavy wounds, but after awhile even Tordek seemed that he might succumb. Things seemed at their most dire when a bugbear raised the portcullis and the bugbear, dire wolf, and goblin leader surrounded Tryn; their attacks were relentless and Tryn was wounded. Thankfully the Bugbear’s swing went wide and smashed into the dire wolf instead. As they set up for another round of the deadly onslaught, Andraste used her psionic gift to take control of the bugbear, making it attack his comrades. Confused by the seeming betrayal, the dire wolf lashed out at the bugbear and the harried Tryn escaped with her life. Bristlethurn chanted through his totem, bringing courage and healing to his allies so that they would not fall. Meanwhile his spirit bear clawed and bit at the flanks of the enemy, keeping them off guard. Finally the mighty blows of Styx and Tordek overcame two bugbears while Andraste’s gifts continued to warp the mind of the other into betrayal. Combined with Tryn’s dagger the goblin leader fell with the dire wolf soon to follow. The heated battle was over!
After taking a little time to recover from their injuries, the group looked to the door on the other side of the courtyard; the time had come to find Gyss. Andraste closed the three portcullises and locked them in place, let’s see the goblin army get through that! Tryn checked the door for traps and, finding it safe, Styx and Tordek opened the doors. Inside was a musty room lit by torches, rows of armor decorated the entry hall and two statues of sphinxes seemed to stand guard at the end. Styx boldly entered the room and upon doing so promptly heard a click. Two crossbow turrets emerged from the space between the sphinxes, and Styx could hear rustling from down the halls. As he moved to the sides of the room, the crossbows both aimed their sights at Tordek; the enemy would be coming soon…..