“Splendid!” said Troyas happily, a wide grin breaking out on his face. “Although many of my fellows on the Council harbor grave doubts about the wisdom of employing adventurers in this wise, we will prove them wrong. The City Watch is not up to the task of rescuing our townsfolk, so you will do it instead and they will be proved wrong.”
With that he gestured in the direction of the mysterious elf who had been standing silently at the back of the room.
“This is Vetch. He has been doing some work for me in recent weeks and has proven very capable. He will be accompanying you on this mission. His skills may prove very valuable to you.”
The newly introduced Vetch inclined his head in the direction of the party, but remained silent.
Okidoki looked up from where he had been admiring his fine new broach. “There is a problem there though Master Troyas. We do not know where the goblins have gone.”
The half-elven councilor’s grin faded to a serious look at this.
“That is true enough sir Gnome. We do not know where they have gone. Yet. However we have had one small piece of luck that might help us there. Out of all the chaos last night, our watchmen managed to take a prisoner. Just the one, but I dare to hope that one will be enough.”
He walked over to the window and gestured outside. Chenia, standing closest to the window, moved over to it and looked out in the direction the Councilman pointed. Outside in a small square behind the Council Building were the stocks. Usually unused except for the occasional overly excited drunkard, Chenia could see a figure locked within the stocks and flanked by two figures in the livery of the City Watch. Gathered in front of the stocks Chenia could see a group of smaller individuals that at distance might be either halflings or children.
Shortly later, the four heroes stood in front of the stocks, gazing upon the bedraggled and vegetable spattered form of Morrik the Hobgoblin.
Despite being battered and weary, the Hobgoblin was nevertheless defiant and prepared for all manner of threats and violence from the group. However, no such nastiness was forthcoming. Instead, Chenia merely talked to him. Playing upon his evident pride to be part of the new Army of the Red Hand, Chenia used her superior knowledge of the history of the Vale and the War against the Army of the Red Hand to trick Morrik in to revealing much of what he knew.
Eager to refute Chenia’s claims, Morrick revealed that the new Army of the Red Hand was a band of Hobgoblins and Goblins under the leadership of a Hobgoblin called Sinruth. He also told the group that the Red Hand had based itself in the catacombs under the ruin of Rivenroar Castle. He told them that Sinruth hoped to forge his currently modest band in to a force similar to the original Red Hand and thus set himself up as a power within the Vale. Morrik also told them that Sinruth had made some sort of deal with some undead creatures that laired in the catacombs and that this was why the attacking force had abducted some of the townsfolk. As offerings to the undead.
I think I somewhat mishandled the skill challenge at this point. It was after all our first crack at it. Reading through the description of the challenge I presented the Players with the options listed. Not surprisingly they chose the skill with the lowest target number to concentrate on, and as a result got all the information they needed from Morrik the Hobgoblin just using the History check. Note for self in future – let the Players think of skills they might try to apply and DON’T tell them in advance what the various target numbers are :)
Having gleaned the rough location of the castle from Morrik, the group set out in pursuit of the goblins. Vetch very quickly proved to be as useful to the group as Troyas had suggested he might be, finding and following the tracks of the goblins and their prisoners with seeming ease and guiding the group around perils in the wilderness that they otherwise might have stumbled directly into. With his assistance they arrived at Castle Rivenroar by the most direct available route
It had been an eight hour walk and the group discussed possibly resting for the night before proceeding in to the Castle but decided in the end that there was sufficient day left to make a start. Some party members were also concerned that the captives not be forced to endure another night in the hands of the goblins.
With that, the group cautiously made their way across the threshold of Castle Rivenroar.