Silently, the group passed through the ruined gates of Rivenroar Castle. Without a word Okidoki and Vetch moved out ahead of the rest, stealthily scouting out the way in the hope of catching any goblin guards unaware. Although Vetch could still pick out goblin and hobgoblin tracks passing to and fro through the courtyard of the Castle, no sign could be seen of any of the creatures.
Quietly, Vetch murmured to Okidoki “This place has a desolate air to it. No one has lived here who has cared for the place in a very long time.”
Okidoki glanced around the various outbuildings, taking in the dilapidated condition of the main building with its caved in roof and the jumble of collapsed out-buildings around it and replied “Well, umm, yes. I suppose that is obvious.”
“I don’t mean that no one has looked after the place. I mean that no one has cared for it. No one has thought of it as home. It makes the place feel … empty … in a way that the mere absence of people does not.”
Okidoki stared at Vetch for a moment, trying to make sense of what the elf had just said. Then, with a shrug of his shoulders he turned back to the path ahead. Then both the monk and the ranger started slightly as Chenia spoke up from behind.
“You know, when they first told us about this… an old Castle, claimed by no one, only a day’s walk from Brindol, I thought – fantastic, maybe we could turn it in to some sort of base for our party. A home away from home sort of … but this place is a ruin. It would cost an absolute fortune to repair all of this …” she trailed off as both of the leading characters turned to look at her and made urgent shushing gestures … “oh, yeah .. sorry.” she whispered.
It was soon fairly clear that the majority of the tracks led to a specific building. A small stone structure set towards the back of the castle, it seemed to show less wear than most of the other buildings the group had seen, largely because it was entirely made of stone. Small and squat it nonetheless had an ornately carved lintel over the doors with symbols of most of the locally worshipped gods on display. Small stone pillars on each side of the doors bore the crest of the Rivenroar family. A large looking iron key appeared to be rusted in to the lock of the right hand door and that door stood a couple of inches open.
Approaching the doors, Vetch knocked an arrow as Okidoki reached out and quietly swung the door open. Peering in through the door the two saw a simple flight of stone stairs heading down into the earth below, lit only by the daylight coming in past them. Seeing nothing of any danger, Okidoki motioned to the rest of the group to move up as quietly as they could and then winced when that approach didn’t seem as quiet as he might like. Then he and Vetch slipped in through the doors and started their way down the stairs.
Side by side the gnome and the elf made their quiet way down the finely made, ten foot wide staircase. Vetch couldn’t help but notice that the stairs were made of a fine white stone that reflected the light slightly, and that the stairs boasted oak railings affixed to the walls on both sides. Clearly this area was supposed to display the wealth and good taste of the owners to any who might come visiting.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs however, the pair were greeted with an unpleasant surprise. Standing in the middle of the room with weapons to hand were two Hobgoblins, glaring fiercely at the adventurers. And behind the hobgoblins at the far end of the room, a pair of Goblins, with crossbows at the ready.
For an instant, Okidoki stared at the creatures in puzzlement.
“But we were so quiet” he said plaintively. Then he glanced down at the large pool of daylight that had spilled down the stairs when the door above had been opened, effectively lighting up the very spot on which they stood.
The gnome had time only to say “Oh Bugg..” before, with a roar the Hobgoblins charged.
The first hobgoblin swung wildly at Okidoki with it’s flail, connecting with a glancing blow for only a very little damage. The second one enjoyed rather more success, landing a critical blow on Vetch.
Vetch in reply stabbed out with his shortsword in a Nimble Strike, and although he failed to hit he decided that standing right in front of the monsters getting smacked in the face with a flail wasn’t really his best contribution to the team and shifted back to stand behind Okidoki.
Thomas took advantage of the space cleared by Vetch’s move to rush up to the Hobgoblin and strike it soundly. Okidoki swung at the hobgoblin that had hit him and missed but then used his gnomish Fade Away power to become invisible.
Both of the goblins then fired their crossbows at the intruders but in the confusion of the fight and the sudden disappearance of the gnome they both missed.
There followed a few rounds of confused melee, with the Hobgoblins pinning the group at the entrance to the room. Thomas took some solid hits from the Hobgoblin and from one of the Goblins, although the second goblin disappeared around a corner in the room briefly before returning to fire into the melee.
Eventually, Okidoki unleashed his Spinning Leopard Strike and much like every other time he has used it, it changed the nature of the battle. It killed one of the Hobgoblins outright and wounded the other. With his Phalanx Soldier ability no longer functioning, the last Hobgoblin was suddenly feeling rather at risk. He attempted to shift out of combat to run away but Gladys’s Blurred Step allowed her to keep pace with his shift and stop his escape. He doesn’t last much longer before Vetch’s arrows and Gladys’s blade finish him.
Meanwhile Thomas had charged across the room to the goblin, hoping to finish him quickly and stop his ranged attacks on the group. Although he did manage to stop it attacking the rest of the group, the goblin proved capable in melee as well and given that Thomas had already taken a fair bit of damage, after a brief exchange of blows the goblin left the Shifter laying bleeding on the ground.
However, Chenia was quickly there to save the day, felling the goblin with her Bardic magic and then healing Thomas with her Majestic Word. Meantime the last goblin was trying to escape from the Monk and Battlemind only to fall prey to Gladys’s Blurred Step just as his companion had. Shortly thereafter he joined his companion in death on the cold stone floor.