Pavel the hermit wandered out of the woods from his latest meditation and fasting session to find the parry dealing with the dead goblins. He informed them that he had seen other dangerous looking creatures pushing a wagon full of barrels through the woods toward an area he knew to be frequented by dangerous things.
Confused about the second wagon the adventurers inspected the wreckage more closely. They found that it was only a partial wagon’s worth of debris, and fairly old. They decided to follow the road for a bit and see if they could find where the other wagon was taken.
After a bit, they came to the “bad neighborhood” Pavel had mentioned. Traipsing through dead and twisted trees and brambles finally brought them into a ravine with steep hills on either sides and caves dotting the slopes.
Not liking the look of just strolling in, the party looped around and climbed up above the canyon. In the process, “Beanie” the halfling espied a wagon parked by a tree and two manlike creatures sitting by it. The party tried to quietly surround them, but the hirelings’ woodcraft wasn’t up to snuff. A snapping twig caught the hobgoblins’ (as it turned out they were) attention. A brief fight ensued, in which one hireling was skewered by an arrow. The monsters were dispatched. Besides their gear and a few coins, the only thing of interest the party found on the bodies was a scrap of parchment with writing in a language none of them knew.
The party decided it was getting late in the day to assault the caves, so they retreated to Pavel’s hermitage (a small notch in a hill) to rest. Along the way, as they followed the wagon tracks back from the ravine, they found a leather scroll case with 4 more scraps of parchment in it like the one on the dead hobgoblin.
After they rested, they returned to the caves the following morning. On the hilltop, they discovered several more hobgoblins, including a burly one in plate mail, standing around the wagon, very much on guard. The PCs quickly devised a plan to lure the creatures away and into an ambush.
The plan worked fairly well, and the killed the creatures. The large one was first disabled by a Light spell cast on his eyes. Pavel suggested severing the now glowing head and using it to light their way in the caves, a suggestion to which Perdu enthusiastically agreed.
To fast forward a bit, the party managed to penetrate the hobgoblin caves. One surprise occurred when Scarouche (Beanie) bumped into a couple of warriors who barked questions at her in their language. She showed them one of the pieces of paper the party had found and was surprised to be simply gestured to go away. Needless to say, the PCs hung around and ended up fighting several of the creatures in a large dining hall, after tying up two “cleaning women.” The last hireling was killed in the hobgoblins’ first arrow volley. After exploring a little bit more, the party decided it was time to regroup.
Sadly, as they found their way back to the door, Scarouche didn’t check the side corridor and was riddled with arrows, falling dead at the egress. The two clerics recovered her body after killing the snipers and fled, camping for the night in the woods and returning to the keep the following AM.
The characters sold the large hobgoblin’s earrings to a jewel merchant for 150 royals. They decided to hire some more men at arms for the next foray. In the course of these transactions, they met Tenniel, a sell-sword recently arrived at Castellan Keep. They group also found foru new hirelings: a torch bearer named Gulric, a halfling named Pergo, a man at arms named Samig, and a young mage named Burlew.