The party awoke after a quiet night, undisturbed by chitin wraiths and other nuisances. Our heroes for the week:
Bonk spoke to Mayor Stroemen regarding contributing to the greater good. Stroemen discussed the ongoing threat and defensive needs, especially with the loss of militia. Bonk has been itching to start stronghold development, and considered this a good opportunity, contributing a large percent of his cash to complete the wall and recruit more militia. On the condition that he is now referred to as "Captain." Everything comes with a price.
The party continued north on the trade road, catching up with the dwraven miner caravan and their various hangers-on after a half day. The party passed through the towns of Mithlonde and Laney with no complications. The encounter dice were quiet, but then, who is going to mess with several wagonloads of exceptionally well-equipped dwarves?
They said farewell to their adventuring compatriots, pointing them toward Vansho Reliquary and its guardian dead. Reaching the next town, north of Karnione, they discovered that it was under the protection of troops from the Opharel Theocracy. Half the party inquired to the town elder, and he framed the agreement as a necessary act, endorsed by the town priest, also a follower of Khador. The remainder of the party checked in with the local ale-wife, who was not so enthusiatic about said agreement... After all, they were a bit serious, and poor tippers. Asking after local guides, the local furrier pointed them to a local hunter who had reported some hobgoblins occupying an old ruin west of town. And we're off.
Finding the ruins, the hunter wished them luck and departed. The sneaky members of the group (two halflings and one gnome) crept around the ruins, finding a hobgoblin camp in a collapsed tower. Several strategies were discussed, with Orzu offering to create an illusion that could hopefully distract or even disable the hobgoblins. The party noted hobs moving between other ruins or structures, which cued them to a pair of guards in a second tower. Slick and Flick headed there to shank the guards.
Their backstab attempts were... feeble. With some help from Fulvus and Bonk, they did the hobgoblins in. The remainder of the party had an easier time, as the illusion of the exploding, possessed campfire resulted in the majority of the hobgoblins doing the stop, drop, and roll. Much shanking occurred.
Following this, the party discovered a trapdoor. Stumbleduck, always cautious, dragged a hobgoblin corpse to the door and tossed it down. Nothing exploded.
The party followed. finding a corridor with two doors and an opening, Stumbleduck investigated the opening. And was trampled by a giant two-headed lizard. Fulvus took some bite damaage, but the party was able to overwhelm it, with Slick taking it down and Bonk smashing the second head, just to be sure. Stumbleduck brushed herself off.
Slick checked one door, finding a small room with a shimmering pool. Apparently unoccupied. He closed the door, hearing a wet 'smack' on the door. Probably nothing.
The party considered the opening that the lizard had emerged from. Who was to enter first? "Who's comfortable underground? We don't have a dwarf." "We have a gnome, they're like a poor man's dwarf." Orzu was game, but his henchman wasn't, so Bonk voluntered. Nothing else jumped on him, and the party crept through, finding the remains of the lizard's hunts, as well as some treasure.
Emerging into another chamber from the burrow, the party began to investigate, when they were set upon by a wraith. Those with silver and magic jumped ahead, attacking the apparition. In the melee, only Bonk took a hit and suffered the dreaded level drain...
The wraith defeated, the party investigated further, finding a mosaic of Khador, in her more primeval form, as well as a storeroom/study containing a decaying bookshelf with a partial copy of a signal codebook similar to that found previously. Clearing the area, the party found a second egress from the level, emerging to the surface.
Here they came face to face with another hobgoblin and his two fearsome guards. Orzu was able to incapacitate the guards with a color spray, and the hobgoblin was defeated before he was able to act. Unsure of the identity of the guards, Skick beheaded one for future identification.
Investigating the space, they found another mosaic of Khador with what appeared to be an undamaged Barrier lens. The lens glowed and flickered slightly, but seemed to be otherwise intact. Jax took a shard of broken lens she had picked up at Vansho and held it to the lens. It, too, glowed at contact, and faded as she pulled the glass away. Orzu licked it, because why not? No significant information was gained this way.
The party secured the room and set up camp for the night...
We found anothr Node, with the reward of and apparently intact magical lens. Bonk will recover from his level drain rapidly, due, in part to banked xp from the wall construction donation.
The session felt good, but a bit chaotic/unfocused. I had everything mostly sketched up, so the outline of encounters was there. In reflection, I rushed the combats a bit, and forgot some rules and details. An ongoing challenge, although rewarding the party for good play at leveling the playing field outweighs a bit of crunch.
I went back to my notes on the ruins and realized I missed a couple of things - not uncommon, as my notes are not as centralized as they need to be. I'm moving more information onto the tablet so I have to do less paper shuffling, but the various notes ant lore are still a bit scattered. I'll make a note to (hopefully) close a loop or two beginning of next session...