More and more, people are attracted to Stonehell from around the Coin. It’s always been a magnet for those seeking adventure and fortunes, but this seems different. There’s a steady influx of hearty souls these days, whereas before they would come piecemeal. It’s as if they are answering some call that is out in the ether.
Today, Sieglinde is joined by a most unusual man. A stone dwarf who has eschewed not only his people’s traditional armor, but all clothing entirely! Choosing to wrap his not insubstantial beard about his form for warmth, he practices a form of martial arts as unexpected from a dwarf as it is deadly to those that underestimate him. Learned while on hermitage with a secluded sect of monks. His name is unusual as well, lacking the glottal stops and hard consonants of much of dwarf speech. Phil Collins, he says it translates to in the common tongue.
Another holy man, Slayer, the half Orc paladin readies his halberd for action, not knowing quite what to expect in the caverns below, nor exactly why he was called. Never the less, he shall lend his strong arm to Sieglinde’s cause, should it be just.
And Bill, a lithe elf, deadly with a rapier stands like a reed at the ready, able to bend inthe wind and cut should anything brush its edge the wrong way. Having arrived with Slayer, he silently watches and waits with a sly intelligence.
Together, the four head over to the Ghost Beggars’ camp, wanting to bypass the orcs’ increasingly threatening series of toll gates to areas further into the dungeon. As they descend into the large mushroom cavern, they see some of the bandits harvesting slices of the tree-like fungus. The party asks why they are doing this and they answer that they taste delicious. They’re very firm and sort of meaty when put in a stew or fried up. Sieglinde decides to take a bit for herself and try it later at the keep.
As they enter the room painted as a desert, they take another look around. Things are as they were the last time Sieglinde was here: empty room, acid bleached stain on the floor, no sign of any sphinxes on the walls. Heading south to the room painted as the sea, they do notice the Sphinx. However, this time it is on the cliff, smallish and facing away from the viewers. Sieglinde notices this is not as it was before; the painting has changed!
They head into the next room – the jungle. Again, the placement and size of the Sphinx in the image is different than the first time she was here. Now it is in a different clearing, closer and larger, looking more towards the party. Not wanting to investigate this further at this time and instead wanting to
Sieglinde takes great pains to explain about the green slime trap that the pseudo-beg tried to lure them into before. So they all try to squeeze through the bars, all failing for various reasons, most connected in some way to the entire ox and two barrels of ale consumed in the common room last night. As they’re messing around with various ways of contorting themselves, Slayer walks calmly over to the winch, turns it a few times and walks through the now open gate.
Having overcome that hurdle, they head though the secret door in the dusty room and go to speak with the goblins. The guards in the hallway seem very taken aback by the presence of Slayer, seeing as he’s a half-orc. Though his paladin garb and composed demeanor clearly mark him as being different from the savage Open Sore clan, he does still have obvious Orc blood. “Why do you bring that thing into our midst?” After some reassurances that they shouldn’t be run through immediately, Reshen comes out into the hallway. This time, he’s followed by a very large, dark gray wolf whose pelt seems to melt into the walls and shadows. Easily standing four feet high at the shoulders, it’s a monstrous beast, and her eyes show a sparkling intelligence beyond that of her smaller cousins standing with the other goblins on watch. With a glance at Slayer, he acknowledges that he’s obviously not of the same standing as the Open Sores bastards. Clearly, this is a goblin that knows a bit more about the workings of the world than your average baby-stealer.
Sieglinde tells Reshen that she’s decided to help them in their cause of ousting the orcs from the area. Reshen readily agrees this is a good idea. He says he can’t offer much in the way of monetary recompense, but anything they can do to help them after that, they will. They are gathering their strength and if they can count on help from the party, they will wait to attack until they have backup.
She also asks why they are down here in the first place. He explains that they used to live on the surface, but adventurers, not unlike the party here, were constantly attacking their lair for no reason, killing them and taking their stuff. He admits that a certain contingent of goblin tribes do harass other humanoid settlements, but that his tribe never committed such acts. They simply want to be left alone to live what life they can. They had an uneasy alliance with the orcs of the Open Sores, but he knew that could never last. Orcs are too bloodthirsty and stupid to be content with sharing land or power.
The Open Sores’ living quarters are to the east of here, just west of the Kobold Korners. The corridors between here and there are where the two clans are playing a deadly game of hunter and hunted. The goblins do this to try to whittle the orcs strength down and simply to survive as they forage for food. The orcs do it for sport because they’re assholes. He says they definitely know where the goblin redoubt is, but they choose to keep them alive as a sort of “game preserve” so they can hunt them through the halls when they’re bored.
At the mention of the Kobold Korners, Sieglinde asks about this “Trustee Sniv” she’s heard so much about. Since his kobolds are seen doing a lot of work and seem to come and go relatively easily, could he lend some help in this matter? Possibly strength of arms? Reshen explains that Trustee is a businessman. He’s in it for the money, so the chances of lending any men to fight is pretty low. Though he suggests the only way to know for sure is simply to ask him. He could be convinced that this is in his and, more to the point, his treasury’s best interest. He tells them that the Korners are just east of this section of the old prison.
Before they leave, they ask Reshen if they can have some sort of way to alert lone goblins that they are not their enemy. Thinking for a moment, he turns and whispers something in the ear of his giant wolf companion. Then, taking a nasty looking dagger from his belt, he cuts off four locks of the beast’s fur. “Wrap this together and keep it with you. Show it to any goblins you see here. They will know that what you say is true if you do this.” As the party each makes their own talismans of the dark fur and string plucked from their garments, Sieglinde asks where he found the animal. “Gnash? Ah, I met her up in the mountains when we lived on the surface,” he says while patting her flank. “So, there’s more like her then? Is it possible I could find one for myself? How did you meet?” Sieglinde presses. “Ha! Well… That’s all a tale best discussed over a barrel of ale in calmer times. When we all survive this endeavor, I’ll gladly tell it to you.”
Thanking him for the help, the party leaves and heads back to the contested corridors, in search of the Kobold Korners and the elusive Trustee Sniv.