The Pantos Dominion

The Ranger's Journal - Day 14

The day came and went uneventfully. On occasion I would come down from my hiding place to peer into Joffre’s farm to see that Joffre was working away in his garden or otherwise just to stretch my legs a bit.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 13

Fiswyn and I met Joffre early the next morning and he led us eastward out of town to his farm. When we arrived at Joffre’s farm he ran over to an open gate in the fence that surrounded the garden yelling that they had gotten in and destroyed his garden again this morning after he had left to come get us. Even more interesting, according to Joffre, he had double checked the crossbar on the gate this morning to insure all was locked down tight but somehow the boars had still managed to remove the crossbar and open the gate. I checked the fresh tracks in the area and confirmed that they were boar tracks, probably four boars although one set of tracks was a bit larger than the other three.

We decided that if Joffre was around, the boars would not come back so we scouted around a bit for someplace that Fiswyn and I could hide while we sent Joffre back toward town. A forest surrounded the farm, and only a short distance to the west of the fenced in garden was the edge of it. I decided I would go into the forest and perch high in a tree where I could watch the garden without being seen. Fiswyn was going to hide in the nearby barn. We headed away from the farm toward town but left Joffre a short way down the road and circled back toward the farm quietly. I climbed my tree and caught a quick glimpse of Fiswyn as he darted into the barn.

It was only a short wait before four boars appeared at the edge of the forest on the east side of the farm. As the boars approached the farm they came alongside the barn where Fiswyn was hiding and suddenly stopped, squealed, and retreated back into the forest. Somehow they had discovered Fiswyn was there. I quickly climbed down from the tree and headed back over to the farm to discuss what had happened and what we should try next.

Now knowing that we were dealing with some very skittish boars, we decided to see if we could track them back to their lair but we needed to insure that they didn’t know we were coming. I cast my Hide from Animals spell on Fiswyn and myself and we headed into the woods following the boar tracks. Not far into the woods we came across a small stream and the boar tracks ended. The boars had either gone upstream or downstream. I had a strong feeling that they had gone upstream so we set off in that direction to see if we could find any location where the boars had exited the stream.

As we walked along the stream we came across a dead animal, a porcupine, killed by an arrow with the markings of a hunter or hunting party, not beast like orc or goblin. It appeared to have been killed maybe a day or two ago. Who would kill a porcupine and worse, not take it for food or hide but leave it to rot where it lay? This was very disturbing to me and I thought this might be worth coming back to investigate further once we found the boars. I said a short prayer to Ehlonna for the porcupine and we headed on up the stream. A little while further we came across another dead animal. This one had been dead for at least a week and it was hard to tell what type of animal it was but it was killed by another arrow with the same markings as the arrow used against the porcupine. I would definitely have to find the owner of these arrows and put a stop to this useless slaughtering of Ehlonna’s creatures. Again, I said a short prayer to Ehlonna for this animal and we started upstream again.

Just a few paces upstream from the second dead animal, I found the boars tracks again and we headed off east after them. After a short time the tracks headed up a small rocky slope and were soon lost in the hard rocks but after some careful studying I was able to pick up the tracks a short way further east and we set off again heading off into a wooded area that soon led to a large clearing in the trees that contained a lake of equal size. In the center of the lake was a small island where the four boars were scurrying about.

As we approached the edge of the lake, the larger of the four boars came down to the edge of the water, looked directly at me, grunted and scrapped the ground with its front hoof. I knew I was still under my Hide from Animals spell so I thought it coincidental that the boar looked directly at me. I moved about ten feet to one side and the large boar followed me with his head and eyes. It wasn’t coincidental; he could see me, but how?

The large boar then turned and headed to the top of the small island and rooted around in what appeared to be a small nest or bed. He picked up something in his mouth and then came back down to the edge of the island and dropped it as if to offer it to me. It looked like an arrow.

After a minute or two, obviously not getting the reaction he had hoped for, the large boar went back up to the top of the island and laid down in his nest. I started to feel a bit frustrated that we were getting nowhere with these boars. If we tried to swim out to the island, it could be disastrous as boars can swim really well if they chose to attack us or they may just swim to the other side and run into the woods. Even if we could make it to the island without the boars leaving, it would still be too small an area with no chance of our escape if the boars attacked us. I decided I would climb a tree and attempt to shoot one of the smaller boars with an arrow. If this provoked an attack, I would be ready to defend myself from the tree where the boars could not reach me. However the boars had shown no hostility toward me so I didn’t want to kill the boar, at least not yet.

I told Fiswyn what I had planned so that he would be ready just in case they decided to charge across the water toward us. I climbed up a nearby tree, took careful aim to just graze one of the smaller boars and released the arrow. The arrow flew straight and true across the lake but inches before reaching the small boar the arrow suddenly dropped and stuck in the ground. The island was protected. The boar that I was aiming at jumped and squealed as the arrow struck the ground in front of it, and it turned and ran across the island to the far side. The larger boar once again got up from his nest, came down to the water, grunted and scrapped the ground with its front hoof.

Fiswyn and I talked and decided that the boar was trying to tell us to come over to the island. Fiswyn also believed that since my arrow was unable to pass whatever magic barrier was protecting the island that any other weapons would not be able to pass either. I was not excited about the idea of going to the island unarmed so Fiswyn agreed to go first. He felt that, should anything happen, he could get back to the water, off the island and outside the magic barrier which would give me the opportunity to shoot anything that pursued him.

Fiswyn removed his rapier and his short bow and laid them on the ground, then cautiously entered the water and swam over to the island. After a short wait on the edge of the island with nothing happening, he slowly moved up the edge of the island and out of the water. The three smaller boars watched him but otherwise did nothing while the larger boar came down to greet him. The larger boar began sniffing Fiswyn as if smelling food and wanting to find it. Fiswyn took out some of his trail rations and offered it to the boar that quickly snatched them up and ate them. The boar turned and headed back up to his nest and Fiswyn followed him. He glanced around the larger boar’s nest and found a few odds and ends but nothing of real interest. As he was turning to come back down his eye caught something protruding from the center of the island. It was a small wooden marker of some sort with some odd markings, possibly writing. Yet the markings were not carved in the wood, more so that the wood had grown in such a way to produce the markings. Fiswyn studied the marker briefly and then headed back down the island and swam back over to where I was waiting.

Fiswyn told me what he had found and then started to tell me about an ancient legend that he had remembered when he saw the marker. The legend had been about a great ranger and when he died a shrine to him had been built on a small island deep in the forest.

Since it was clear that the boars were not going to harm Fiswyn, and that this could be the shrine of a great ranger, I removed my long sword, shield and long bow and swam out to the island. When I reached the island, the larger boar got up and came over to me and began sniffing me just like he did Fiswyn. I also took out a few trail rations and offered it to the boar. After quickly eating the rations the boar seemed as if he had something to tell me. I followed him up to his nest and he rooted around in it for a moment and then came out carrying a small charm on a leather cord and dropped it at my feet. I reached down and picked it up as the boar went back to his nest and come back with an arrow. When I looked back at the boar, he grunted, bit the arrow in half, and dropped it on the ground. He was clearly not very happy about the arrow. I picked up the arrow and looked at it. It was just like the other arrows that had killed the other animals that we found on the way here. I went up and looked at the shrine that Fiswyn had mentioned and noticed that the markings were writing and it read, “Dedicated in Life to Protect Gaia’s Children”. Now it all started to make sense.

I motioned to the larger boar that I understood that someone was attacking the creatures in the forest and that they were not happy about it. I tried to explain that I would resolve the problem and he seemed to understand me and I could tell that his mood lightened. I swam back across the lake to where Fiswyn was waiting and began to explain to him that the boars were upset that someone, the owner of this charm, probably Joffre, had been killing animals in the woods for sport and the boars were attacking the farm in retaliation.

We headed back to Joffre’s farm and then found Joffre to discuss what we had learned. He asked if we were able to track the boars and find their lair but we evaded the question and asked him if he ever did any hunting in the forest. He noticed the charm that I had and his face brightened as he exclaimed that we had found one of the items that the boars had stolen from him and asked again if we had found them. We asked again if he did any hunting and he told us that he hunts in the woods all the time. We then asked if he hunted for sport or if he only killed for necessity such as food and hide. Joffre explained that he frequently just heads out in the woods to practice his bow skill, shooting at any little creatures that move. I was appalled. It took most of my strength to keep me from attacking the man right then and there. I explained to Joffre that killing animals for sport was wrong. Animals have a place in society and should be respected for what they are. They can and do provide us with food, clothing and occasionally tools; that is their place. Needless killing, just for sport, was not tolerated and the forest animals, at least the boars, were seeking revenge for it.

Joffre just laughed, “Animals don’t seek revenge, at least not for other animals”, he said. He did not believe in the slightest that these boars were seeking revenge for killing other forest animals. Fiswyn and I tried to explain it in different ways but he just could not believe it. I felt that trying to explain to Joffre that the boars were acting on behalf of a higher power would just add to the “tale” and cause further disbelief. Finally, frustrated, I just told him to trust me and we turned and headed down the road.

As Fiswyn and I walked away from the farm we felt that there was no way that Joffre was going to believe us and stop killing the animals. We knew that something more was going to happen. Remaining hidden, we circled around to the east side of the farm and down the path that lead to the stream. Here, just before the stream and little back from the path, I climbed a tree and prepared to wait to see if Joffre would again set out into the forest to kill animals or to try and find the boars. Fiswyn went on, up the stream, through the rocks and to the lake with the island. There he found a nice place to hide out of sight of the path and waited.

Just as we expected, it wasn’t long before Joffre with his bow in hand, came strolling down the path toward the stream. As he passed, and following our previous tracks, turned upstream, I quietly climbed down from the tree and followed him. Unfortunately, Fiswyn and I didn’t try to hide our tracks like the boars did and so Joffre found them easy enough to follow straight to the clearing with the lake and island. As Joffre approached the island, he saw the boars milling around as they had earlier and raised his bow taking aim at one of the boars. As he did so, I stepped out from behind him, bow in hand, arrow nocked and trained on him, and told him that if he released his arrow, I would as well.

It took Joffre a good minute before he could process what was going and then he reluctantly lowered his bow. With an angry look, he turned toward me and demanded why I was threatening him and protecting these _boars _that were destroying his garden. I lowered my bow as well and then attempted again to explain what needed to be done.

I escorted Joffre back to his farm trying desperately to get through to this man. Some way down the path, Fiswyn had appeared from behind us and added to the conversation. As we arrived at the farm we were finally able to strike a deal. Joffre would give it two days. He would not go hunting for the boars or any other animal for sport. If the boars did not show up and destroy his garden in those two days, he would accept what we had been telling him. If the boars showed up and destroyed his garden again, I would take personal responsibility for it. It was not an easy deal for Joffre but since it had been quite a while that a day had not passed that the boars came, he felt in two days, the boars would come.

Again, just to be sure, remaining hidden, we circled around to the east side of the farm and down the path that lead to the stream. I climbed that same tree and prepared to wait to see if Joffre would again set out into the forest to kill animals or to try and find the boars. Fiswyn went on, up the stream, through the rocks and to the lake with the island and again found a nice place to hide out of sight of the path and waited.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 12b

While relaxing in the Happy Halfling I started chatting with a local townsman about the latest area news. The gentleman had had a bit too much to drink and started talking about how most of the townsfolk didn’t like Beld and the militia hanging around town. When I mentioned that they were here to protect the town from goblin or orc attacks he just laughed and said that Moor would protect the town if need be. I knew Moor was a big guy, but he was just the blacksmith; I wondered just how much he would be able to do. When I asked the man, he laughed again and started telling me stories about how Moor had come to Leona about four or five years ago and had become the blacksmith but also was a key defender in the town. He had defended the town multiple times from orcs and goblins and even killed an ogre single handedly, “Saw it with my own two eyes,” he said. But before I could ask any more questions, the townsman finished his ale, declared he had to move on, and headed out of the Happy Halfling.

Later that evening, Fiswyn had come into the Happy Halfling and was playing for the crowd when a farmer at a table off to one side started getting a little carried away with his discussions with another farmer. It appeared that he was quite upset and I overheard something about his farm being attacked so I moved over to another table a bit closer to see if I could hear more about what was going on. After a few minutes it was clear that the farmer, Joffre, was quite upset about some boars that kept destroying his gardens even after he built fences around them. This seemed quite unusual in that boars typically do not attack farms and even if they did, they would not be able to get inside a fenced garden, at least not the way Joffre had explained it.

Knowing we were going to be in town for a few days waiting on Beld’s runner to Pembroke, I decided to approach Joffre to ask if there was anything that I could do to help. Joffre proceeded to explain his situation but was doubtful that anyone would be able to help. He explained that the boars only seem to come when he is not there and seem to disappear quickly when he returns, even if he is only gone for a short time. Although they had destroyed parts of his garden’s on multiple occasions, he had never seen the boars himself even when he sat for hours watching the garden. He did see the tracks they made and based on the tracks he was certain they were boars. He also explained that several times he had tried unsuccessfully to track the boars but they always seem to disappear in the woods. I asked him if there was anything unique about his farm, if he grew anything extraordinary or if his farm was located exceptionally close to the forest, anything that would set his farm different than the others in the area but he was unable to come up with anything.

Something was clearly not right, either Joffre had been drinking way too much or these boars were under some sort of influence. Since Joffre seemed to be holding his ale well, curiosity got the best of me and I offered to look into the matter further. Joffre said he didn’t have anything to offer me in return besides his gratitude but I was still compelled to find out just what had these boars all in an uproar.

Taking a break from entertaining the customers and noticing my interaction with the farmers, Fiswyn came over to see what I was up to. In brief, I explained the situation to Fiswyn and that I was offering to help the farmer even though he offered no compensation. More quietly, and for Fiswyn only, I explained my concerns that something deeper was wrong and that if he were up to it, I would welcome the company. Fiswyn was not all that excited about doing “charity” work but since he had made some pretty good money in tips already that evening, he reluctantly agreed and we told the farmer that we would meet him first thing the next morning outside the Happy Halfling.

The rest of the evening passed uneventfully and I headed over to my room at the inn for the night.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 12a

As the sun was coming up we had our breakfast and started gathering our things to head back into Denhelm Hold. Just before we broke camp we heard that familiar low, long horn coming from Stone Tooth Mountain Keep but this time the horn sounded twice. We had heard the horn sound once when the keep had a reason to secure the doors but what did two blasts mean?

Biggun felt convinced that two blasts meant the army in the keep was moving out for an attack and most likely that they were going to be heading to Leona. He felt that we had an obligation to head back to Leona to help defend it or if the army was too great, that possibly the Stone Tooth Mountain Keep would be left unfortified to allow us to capture it. We all agreed and we quickly gathered our things and headed east toward Leona. Biggun was still convinced that we needed to further understand what was happening and decided to ride our horse up ahead and see what he could find out and then return back to us as we continued to head east.

After a while, Biggun returned and told us that the whole area between the towers and the road was torn up with tracks from the keep all headed toward Leona. We quickened our pace and soon arrived at the Stone Tooth Mountain guard towers. Checking the tracks, I found that most of the tracks were from Kobolds and most of them were heading into the keep, not out. There were some tracks, kobold and most likely, orc and goblin, heading east along the road that were a bit older, possibly a day old, but all the new tracks were heading into the keep.

Thinking I might get a better view from the towers, I started toward the west tower and soon felt the sting of a goblin arrow. As three more arrows hit the ground nearby, I jumped back behind the large boulder at the road and nocked an arrow. Guy, Felthion and Musk all ran for the west tower and Biggun headed for the east tower while I took out one of the three goblins I saw in the west tower. I then turned toward the east tower and took down the goblin I saw there while Fiswyn took out the second goblin in the west tower. The other two goblins, one in each tower, ducked down out of sight and blew their horns. The keep answered with its low, long blast. Knowing that Guy, Musk and Felthion were at the base of the west tower, I ran after Biggun to the east tower. When I got to the tower, there was some awful smelling slime all up and down the ladder and Biggun was trying to climb up but having no luck whatsoever. I nocked another arrow and drew my bow aiming up to the small hole at the top of the ladder daring him to show his face. I didn’t have to wait long before the goblin stumbled past the hole and caught my arrow.

As we regrouped, I learned that Musk had received the full dose of the awful slime from the west tower however it didn’t seem to bother him much. I’m not sure, but I think it may have helped him smell a little better. Musk had also climbed up the tower and as he was climbing through the hole to the platform, his great axe fell on the last goblin and killed him. On the other hand, Guy had attempted to climb the ladder too but had gotten some of the slime on him and was retching at the base of the tower. Felthion had scouted a little further north to see if there was anything else to be concerned with but reported that all was quiet.

Because the newest tracks lead north to the keep, the towers were still guarded, and the keep had answered the warning from the goblins, we decided that the keep had not been left unfortified and continuing on to the keep would not be wise. And since there still were a large amount of kobold tracks that had headed east, even if it was the previous day, we decided that we should continue to Leona and if Leona was still there and still guarded, warn Captain Beld that kobolds have now joined the ranks with the goblins and orcs.

As we continued east, we noticed that a significant portion of the kobold tracks turned south down the road as if to head to the farms but the remaining tracks continued eastward. We also continued eastward following the remaining tracks until we came just south of Doran’s farm. Here we noticed that the remaining tracks all headed to and from Doran’s farm; no tracks headed further east. This meant that Leona should still be safe and so we decided to pay a quick visit to Doran’s farm to see if we could learn any further information.

At Doran’s farm, we noticed that new wooden fences, like pens, had been constructed in various places all around the fields. Further investigation revealed that the fences were constructed around the large insect holes we had discovered before and that within these fences were also large clumps of grass that appeared different from any of the other grass around the farm. Wondering if this could be the Shimmering Blade, or glitter grass, the elves told us the farmers were farming, Sykon cast a detect magic spell and the grass as well as what appeared to be veins or possibly the root structure of the grass all began to glow with an aura of magic.

We started to realize that maybe the orcs and goblins were not here to invade the towns but instead were here to take over the farming of the glitter grass or possibly the kobolds are seizing the opportunity of the land after the orcs and goblins have cleared the area of farmers. It could be possible that the orcs are forcing the kobolds to farm the grass for them but it is well known that kobolds and goblins do not like each other. The only way such savage people would want to “farm” would be if directed to by other more superior forces. We decided to check out the other buildings in the area to see if there were any more clues but were unsuccessful in finding anything. Felthion tried to bait one of the insects out of the hole but he too was unsuccessful.

We decided that we should head on back to Leona to report our new information to Captain Beld and set out eastward toward High Peak Pass. We went through High Peak Pass without issue and as the sun started setting; we came to Leona and headed over to Beld’s camp to report what we had found and to see if Beld had learned anything more from the Orc patches or the platinum coin we had shown him.

We told Beld about the Kobold tracks leading into the Keep and he was puzzled about that as well. We also asked if he had found out any further information about the orc tribal patches and the platinum coin we had shared with him before and he told us that he had sent a runner to Pembroke to gather information but that the runner had not returned yet. He said he expected the runner to be back in about four days from today.

Although we didn’t really want to wait four days, we felt the information the runner could provide might be worth the wait. We decided that we needed more information from the farm boy but Sykon did not have much luck the last time we were in town. Since Fiswyn has a way with charming people we agreed that he would visit Moor and the boy to see what he could find out. As for the rest of us, most of the party had things they could do over the next four days, Felthion wanted to visit the church, Sykon had some research to do and Biggun rarely turned down the opportunity to spend time in the local tavern drinking ale. I hoped Musk and Guy would seek out the inn and find a bath to wash off the awful stuff the goblins had dumped on them and I would visit the Happy Halfling for some good drink and entertainment and whatever tidbits of information that might be floating around.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 11b

The evening was clear and calm and we decided we didn’t need a fire as we made camp just south of the road. As we ate our dinner we all had a big laugh as we talked about the big bat and the other events of the day.

When it was time to start our usual watches and the group was getting settled in for the night, I spotted a small group heading up the road to the east. As they got closer I could tell they were human, or at least most of them were, five out of the six. The sixth one was an odd looking man, larger and bulkier then the others, with a somewhat orcish appearance. We decided to approach the group cautiously. As we moved closer, the group spotted us and moved into a defensive stance but it wasn’t long before Quan Di’ hurried over to them and with a bow, hailed the lady monk that stood surrounded by four other monks. As Quan Di’ introduced the lady monk as the master of his order, I listened but kept my eyes on what was now obviously a half-orc that stood behind them. Quan Di’s master explained that she and the other monks were on a quest of their own and were fortunate that she found Quan Di’ along the way. She explained that Quan Di’ was needed to accompany them on their quest. Although she would not reveal much of their quest, it became obvious that this quest was strictly for monks of her order. It was then that the questions came up about the half-orc called Musk Ban’Der.

The monks explained that although they had very little knowledge of Musk and his fighting ethics they had no reason to believe that he would not make a worthy addition to our party, possibly filling the role now vacated by Quan Di’. After much discussion and several objections, mostly on my part, the party agreed to allow Musk to join our party. He was, however, told that we have been, and would most likely continue to be, fighting orcs in this area. This did not upset Musk in the least, in fact; I believe he was looking forward to it. He appeared as if he would be happy fighting just about anyone.

We said our farewells to Quan Di’ and his fellow brothers and headed back to where we made camp. As everyone settled down for the night, I took the first watch but I kept a close eye on the half-orc. Soon, Fiswyn took over the watch and I reluctantly settled down for my meditation.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 11a

As the sun was coming up over High Peak Pass in the east, we prepared ourselves for the day’s adventure and then set out from the Wandering Mule following the road west on our way to Denhelm Hold. After a few miles we came to the Dead Forest but continued on without hesitation. About a mile after we left the Dead Forest, we came across a small path heading south from the road but we decided we would continue on and come back to investigate the path at a later time.

After another mile, we came to the entrance of Denhelm Hold. All around the entrance, expertly carved in the mountain side were a number of runes that Biggun read as saying: “Here lie the halls of Jarn Hellir, Fortress of the Mighty Rune Kingdom.” As Biggun was reading and translating the runes, a goblin arrow from a port hole in the west wall flew past him. Biggun and the rest of us darted into the hallway on the east side of the entrance to get out of view of that port hole. At the end of the hallway, it opened into a large room with another hallway leading off to the west. Knowing the room behind the port hole couldn’t be too far down this west hallway, we headed that direction to try to find this goblin before he could sound any kind of alarm. As we ran down the hallway, I stopped briefly to look down another hallway that ran northward. I could see the hallway ended in another with what appeared to be statues in the two far corners. I didn’t see any other creatures in the room and so continued on down the west hallway.

At the end of the hallway, we came to a T with a hallway that ran both north and south however the north hallway was mostly blocked by a large stone door. The door, although open now, was the exact same as the walls lining the hallway that ran north and south. This gave it the appearance of what may have been a secret door to the small room directly to the west. While Sykon and Guy investigated that door and the small room, Quan Di’, Biggun and Felthion headed south down the hallway to the room with the port hole where they quickly dispatched the three goblins that waited there. Biggun came back up the hallway and decided that we needed to close the secret door so that we could get passed it and continue on exploring the Hold.

Just before Biggun could get to the door, a goblin arrow flew past my head from behind the door. I swung around and looked between the door and the wall and could see three goblins in a room at the end of the hall. As Biggun pushed and pulled on the door unsuccessfully, I took out the goblins. At that point Felthion took a hold of the door and between the two of them, they pulled the door back far enough that we could get passed it and down the hallway. Unfortunately, the hallway ended in a small room that appeared to be the current camp for the goblins. We checked the goblins for anything valuable and searched the room for any secret doors or panels but we found nothing.

With nowhere else to go, we headed back down the hallway and turned northward to go into the room with the statues that we had passed earlier. When we entered the room, we found four statues, one in each corner, that were fine carvings of what looked like four different dwarf heroes each holding their own unique weapon. There was one dwarf holding a sword, another holding a spear, another holding an axe and the last holding a staff. While the party studied the four statues, noting that they were each on a stand that allowed each statue to rotate easily in a full circle, I searched for any kind of secret doors or panels. On the east wall I found what appeared to be a twenty foot wide secret door but there were no indications on how to open it. Looking at the statues, each capable of pivoting in any direction, we decided to see if we could maneuver the statues in such a way that could cause this secret door to open.

On our first attempt, we pointed the weapons of each of the four statues toward the center of the room. That apparently was the correct combination as the secret door slowing started rising with a low rumble noise. When the door had opened far enough, Guy, Biggun and I all stepped into the wide hallway that headed off to the east and searched for any method to open the door from the inside but was unable to find any switch or other controls. We talked about having a couple of people stay in the statue room, just in case the door closed but decided that there had to be a way to open the door from the inside, we would just need to find it if the door closed.

Inside the wide hallway, we could see another hallway that branched off to the north as the current hallway continued on to a large room. We turned up the north hallway and entered a large room that may have once been a dining room with wide hallways leading off in each of the other three directions. In the far left corner, there was a large table on its side but otherwise the room was empty.

As we moved further into the room, two hobgoblins appeared behind the table and launched arrows at us. Biggun, Quan Di’ and Felthion charged. Just before the first hobgoblin died, it let out a terrible scream and we heard a loud rumble coming from the right hallway. A large, low voice called out to what we could only guess as the two hobgoblins asking if everything was ok. Fiswyn tried to yell back in his best imitation of a hobgoblin that all was well but the other hobgoblin yelled that they were being attacked and needed help. The large, low voice answered back that it was coming to help.

As Quan Di’ wrestled with the hobgoblin, Biggun headed for the right hallway to see what had made all the noise and came face to face with a huge two-headed ettin carrying a large tree trunk as a club. Guy swung around behind the ettin and hit him so hard blood went everywhere. As the ettin roared with pain, he turned and swung the tree trunk right into Guy’s side. Answering the ettin’s roar, fifteen goblins poured into the room from the left hallway. Hearing Guy groan with pain and seeing the goblins coming into the room, Quan Di’ let go of the hobgoblin and a headed for the goblins. The hobgoblin started to crawl into the corner but Felthion’s mace was too quick. I shot and hit one of the goblins with a deadly arrow as Felthion and Quan Di’ engaged two others coming into the room. Draug lunged at one of the goblins but was knocked down while another hit him hard across the back causing him to let out a painful yowl. Several other goblins shot arrows toward us but with poor aim. I quickly shot and killed both of the goblins hitting Draug while next to me, Sykon cast a spell that sprayed vivid colors all over the goblins in front of him and Fiswyn causing three of them to fall unconscious. Another swing of the ettin’s tree trunk and Guy went down, unconscious or dead we couldn’t tell. Sykon, Fiswyn, Draug and I finished killing the remaining goblins while Quan Di’ and Biggun got the ettin’s attention and finally killed him. Felthion checked Guy and cast some healing spells on him and he got back up but had a terrible headache. We searched all the bodies but found nothing aside from a few coins.

We decided this room with all the entrances was not a good place to be so we headed back down the southern hallway and then turned east. In just short distance we came to another large room, although not quite as large as the dining room. This room had several ornately carved columns along the east wall and only one other exit, to the north.

We turned and headed north coming to a four-way intersection of hallways. The northern hallway was completely barricaded but we could see goblins watching us from behind it. The western hallway led back to the dining room where the fifteen goblins and the ettin lay dead. We turned to the right and headed down the eastern hallway. At the end of the hallway, we came to another large room. This room looked about the same size as the dining room but had no other exits except a small room on the eastern wall and a large fireplace on the southern wall. The room appeared to be the lair for the ettin with a large nest in one corner but was otherwise empty.

We began searching the room for anything of interest. Sykon was searching around the fireplace when he suddenly turned and ran past Biggun yelling that there was a huge bat in the fireplace. Felthion laughed and started teasing Sykon about being afraid of a bat when a huge bat soared out of the fireplace right at me. The bat’s head was bigger than my head and its wing span was at least seven or eight feet wide but I didn’t have any time to react as it landed on my chest and bit down on my head. With the weight of the bat and the pain in my head, I stumbled backwards causing the bat to fall to the ground and drew my long sword but I couldn’t concentrate and swung my sword a bit wildly totally missing that huge bat. The party all rushed in to surround the bat but with its large wings, no one could really get close enough to hit it before it lunged at me again biting me in the chest. Out of pure rage I swung my long sword as hard as I could and by luck I made contact with the bat, slashing its throat. As the bat dropped dead I sank down to my knees in pain but Felthion was quick with his healing to cure my wounds. For a while, we all just stood there and stared….that was a huge bat.

We went back to searching the room and Biggun headed over to the small room on the east wall. The floor of the room was covered in a green soggy moss as water dripped from the ceiling. Biggun took a few steps into the moss and a vapor began to rise from his boots and he turned and jumped back out of the moss but the vapor still came from his boots like there was some sort of acid on them. He tried to get whatever it was off his boots but everything he tried started dissolving in the acid too. Finally giving up, Biggun pulled off his boots but not before some of the acid dissolved the last layers of the soles and reached the bottom of his feet. As the rest of us stood there staring half amused, half bewildered, Biggun performed an interesting dance, as much as a dwarf could dance, until he was finally able to get the acid off his feet.

We looked back at the mossy room but as far as we could tell, there was nothing else inside. We wondered if there was anything that could contain the acid as it might prove useful in the future but as we dropped a few things onto the moss, each one dissolved completely in a just a few seconds.

Although we were inside, we could tell the day it had been a full day and we decided that we would rather take our chances making camp outside until we had explored a little more of the hold. As we headed back to the room with the statues, we stopped in the room where we had fought the ettin, goblins and hobgoblins and Biggun was able to get his feet into a pair of hobgoblin boots. When we reached the room with the statues, we turned each statue and the secret door closed behind us. We moved on through the hallways, went back outside and headed back to the road.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 10

At sunrise, we all gathered outside the Happy Halfling and headed out of town. It was a long walk to the Wandering Mule and it took us all day to get there but the trip was uneventful. We did make sure to head a little off the road to the south as we passed the towers to Stone Tooth Stronghold so as not to draw any attention to ourselves.

As we reached the Wandering Mule in the late evening, it was much the same as we had left it a few days earlier. Felthion and Biggun set out in the back to bury the remains of the four bodies while the rest of us did what we could to air the place out and do a little more searching. The only noticeable change we found was that the mattress on the bed in the back room had been completely shredded as if someone was searching for something in the mattress, we can only guess that this may have been the work of the peddler and his guards. After Felthion and Biggun finished burying the dead, we closed and secured the doors for the night. Just to be safe, Fiswyn and I took our typical four hour watches but the night passed without incident.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 9

In the morning I spent some time around town replenishing my adventuring supplies; among other things, I picked up some more trail rations and another quiver of arrows. The party met at the Happy Halfling late in the day and Sykon and filled us in on the research he had been doing. He now wore Patch’s ring of Mind Shield and had identified the vials that we had as healing potions of moderate strength. Sykon also said that he had spoke with Moor, the blacksmith, about what he might know about Stone Tooth Stronghold. Moor had told him about the legends that say that Stone Tooth Stronghold held the legendary forge of a great dwarf named Dellinhall but that it was only a legend. Sykon also spoke briefly with the boy but was not able to get any information from him. When Sykon asked about the large bug like creatures around the farms, the boy became very nervous and said he had to get back to work. Felthion also explained that he had talked to Captain Beld again inquiring on the whereabouts of the farmer Doran. The Captain told Felthion that there was nothing for Doran in Leona and had sent him south to Pembroke the day after he arrived in Leona.

We spent the remainder of the evening discussing what our next plans were. Guy wanted to head south to Pembroke but Sykon wanted to find out what that peddler and his guards were after that made them so nervous about the Wandering Mule being attacked. Several of us also felt that the original quest to rid the valley of orcs and goblins was not yet complete. After further discussion, we made the decision that we should head back into Stone Tooth Valley, check out the Wandering Mule again for anything we may have missed and then head on to Denhelm Hold. After making plans to leave first thing in the morning, we spent the night in town.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 8

We broke came during the early morning and headed east down the road toward High Peak Pass. About mid-day we met a small band of human travelers headed west. We approached the four men and inquired about their journey as well as offered our warnings regarding the orcs and goblins in the area. The man on the wagon, that appeared to be a peddler with his guards, told us that they had come from Gorton and were on their way through the pass to Tobvich Keep. From our warnings, they asked about the Wandering Mule and we told them that the place had been attacked and everyone was dead. They acted a bit strange regarding the information about the Wandering Mule as if they knew something they didn’t care to explain but then they quickly changed the subject and asked about Denhelm Hold but we were unable to provide any information as we have not been there. Even after our repeated warnings, the peddler and his guards seemed to disregard them and continued on westward down the road but with a little more urgency than before. We continued on through the day and through High Peak Pass without any further interruptions until we arrived at Leona that evening.

It was clear that the militia had made it to Leona while we were gone. Large spikes had been placed all around the town and guards were positioned at various intervals all along the edge of town. As we approached the western entrance we were stopped and questioned by a guard as to what our intentions were for coming to Leona. After a brief explanation about a boy’s family that had been attacked in Stone Tooth Valley and that we were the adventurers that had set out to investigate, he nodded and told us that we were to report to Captain Beld immediately to report any information we had.

Captain Beld was a stern looking man that seemed pretty set in his beliefs and his ways with dealing with trouble. He accepted Felthion as a fellow brother of the faith but glared disapprovingly at Sykon. The rest of us he seemed to pay very little attention to. We gave Captain Beld our report of what had happened to the farms, the orc and goblin encounters and the discovery of Stone Tooth Mountain keep. We inquired as to if he had men to spare to help retake the keep but he said he only had enough men to protect the city. Biggun offered up one of the platinum coins to Beld asking if Beld had seen the coin before and if he knew where it came from. Beld said the coin was from The Dragon Lands far to the north but that was all he knew. We also showed him the various tribal patches that we had taken from the orcs and Beld set a scribe to making a record of the patches so that he could research them further.

After our report, the captain dismissed us and as we left, we each had our own needs to fulfill. Quan Di’ said he was headed to the monastery; Felthion said he was going to the church; Fiswyn, Biggun, Guy and I headed to the Happy Halfling for a few drinks and some entertainment; and Sykon headed off to study the spell book that he had gotten from Patch. As the night came, I headed up to one of the rooms in the inn for the night.

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The Ranger's Journal - Day 7

About mid-morning, after giving the relieved goblins and the twos orcs time to make it up the mountain pass, Quan Di’ and I headed north away from the towers and then cut back through the forest to the east to the base of the path to meet up with Biggun, Sykon and Felthion. By late morning, Fiswyn and Guy had arrived and we began comparing notes on the days’ events. Biggun, Sykon and Felthion didn’t have much information to report as from their location, they just saw the groups as they traveled back and forth between the keep and the towers. Fiswyn and Guy had shared with us that on the first evening, ten goblins, ten bugbears, four orcs and Unlagu had come out of the keep and had organized on the ledge. It was clear the Unlagu was displeased and made several references to his superior not being happy with the current situation . When five goblins, five bugbears, two orcs and Unlagu headed down the pass, the remaining goblins, bugbears and orcs stayed out on the ledge making it extremely difficult to do anything for a few hours until Unlagu returned with his five bugbears. When he returned, the whole group went back inside except two bugbears that were posted guard. Like the orcs by the towers, the bugbears were replaced several times during each night. Guy also noted that one night three orc women came out to chat with the bugbears but otherwise the days and nights were much as Quan Di’ and I had described. One important observation was that the large doors had been opened that first night when Unlagu had left but had not yet been closed again.

We decided that there was a considerable force in the keep and that assaulting it directly would not be the wisest decision and we were sure that the doors would be closed at any sign of alarm. Instead, we decided to see how they would react if their tower guards were not relieved. The plan was that the party would move to the middle of the forest about a hundred paces west of the trail that lead between the towers and the base of the mountain pass. When the group of five goblins and two orcs arrived that evening, the party would assault them well out of range of the towers but also well off the mountain pass. Quan Di’ and Guy would hide to the northeast of the trail ready to prevent any retreat toward the mountain pass.

As late afternoon was approaching, we quickly moved into position and readied ourselves. As the sun began to set, we were surprised to find a different group coming down the trail. This was the group of five orcs, five goblins, two mounted orcs and the large orc we now called “Patch”. Just behind Patch, were two large wagons drawn by oxen and filled to the top. This wasn’t the group we had planned to attack but we quickly decided that we should take advantage of the plan anyway.

As Sykon launched a flaming sphere at Patch and Fiswyn began to play an encouraging tune, I took aim and dropped the first two goblins, while Biggun and Felthion charged toward the group. Sykon moved the flaming sphere up to hit one of the mounted orc riders causing the rider to scream in agony and fall of the wolf while Sykon launched a second flaming sphere back on Patch. Patch roared with pain as the second sphere hit him. He shouted something and a large ball of thick fog appeared all around him, the two riders and the two wagons. As Biggun and Felthion began fighting the orcs, one of the orc riders came charging out of the fog toward Felthion but the fog must have disoriented him too much as he nearly fell off the wolf during the charge before he was knocked off and killed. Two more goblins died and the fifth goblin took off running but Quan Di’ came flying out from behind the fog chasing him down. While we finished off the five orcs and the large wolf, Guy came out of the fog headed our way and told us the five goblin relief guards and two orcs guards were nearly here. He also told us that Quan Di’ had killed Patch before taking out after the goblin and the other wolf had run without rider east into the forest.

The two orc guards approached the large ball of fog in wonder and we saw two goblins circling the fog at a distance. We couldn’t see them, but we suspected the other three goblins were on the other side of the ball of fog. Guy headed off into the forest hoping to get around the two goblins and kill them before they knew what happened but unfortunately the party was spotted by the leading goblin and he began to scream and point toward us. I shut him up quickly with a well placed arrow but it was too late as the other goblin and orcs came in for the attack. We quickly dispatched the orcs and the other goblin as Quan Di’ came up the path chasing Sykon’s hawk. Quan Di’ saw the other three goblins and headed toward them as I launched an arrow at the one I could see. We quickly killed the three goblins but not before one of them sounded the horn and which was answered by both the tower horn to the south and the low long horn to the north from the keep. The alarm had sounded and we knew the doors would be closed again so we decided we would have to leave the Stone Tooth Stronghold for a later time.

We searched the bodies for anything valuable and found a few hundred gold pieces. Patch had about forty platinum coins, a ring and a spell book. When the ball of fog cleared, we checked the wagons. One wagon was filled with what appeared to be newly forged weapons while the other wagon was filled with newly forged armor. We talked for a while about taking both of these wagons back to Leona to help outfit the townsfolk but determined that although weapons and armor were newly formed, they appeared to be made to outfit a goblin and orc army and not townsfolk, not to mention the time it would take to travel back to Leona with the slow moving oxen. As we set the wagons on fire, we headed off toward the east through the forest until we were well clear of the towers and then turned south to meet back with the road. Once at the road we made camp for the night and planned to head back to Leona first thing in the morning.

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