A little over a month had passed since the occurences in Waterdeep. Hawkeye had returned to the Western Heartlands, resuming his protective vigil over the area, with Murgum at his side. Several tendays into the month he recieved a letter, delivered to him via the Elfsong Tavern, his tavern of choice. It was from Eronall, requesting that he meet him there in two tendays with any adventurers he knew who could spare their time for some pay. He brought along Murgum but also headed to Fairstop, a town he had defended several months back, and picked up Arcamedes, an Aasimar sorcerer from the magical capital of Silverymoon, far to the North. They were joined by Murgum’s companion, a dire boar and Hawkeye’s own animals.
When Eronall arrived he was joiined by Sebastian Mckenzie, an adventurer (and a thief and occassional assassin) who had recently left his home of Amn due to disagreements with his guild. He had arrived in Waterdeep and applied to work with the Hasseth family. Erronal explains to Hawkeye that they have begun to translate his fathers coded journals and that they point to the location of several powerful items. One is believed to be in the Western Heartlands. So the party was formed, now with Sebastian McKenzie, and set off the next morning to make their way across the Fields of the Dead, a tendays journey from Baldur’s Gate to the village of Triel.
The party came across several goblin raiding parties and groups of bandits in the first few days of journey, more than was usual for the road. They soon found Adam, relaxing by the side of the road. He had also been hired by the Hasseth family a tenday back and had headed straight to the Heartlands by himself. So far he had found nothing. Their journey continued, taking in more goblin raiders, some gnoll scouts and more bandits. Sebastian was also called back to Baldur’s Gate to collect further orders and journal translations from Eronall. These translations point to a tavern in the city of Hill’s Edge and mention that the item is a cloak. When Sebastian McKenzie returned he kept the orders to himself, at least for the time being. They soon fought a group of goblinoids and a bandit together, retrieving from him a map which points to the location of the Goblins base, not far from the city of Hill’s Edge. They rode through the night to Triel, cutting down their time from a tenday to eight days. They then headed south to the river port of Scornuble and, after betting on Murgum wrestling some goblins for bets and Adam attempting to make of with the money, joined a ship which was headed up river to Hill’s Edge. The jouney took a few days and they arrived in Hill’s Edge, resting at various places that night (Hawkeye, Murgum and Arcamedes at the Cry of Joy, a temple of Llira, Adam at a decent inn and Sebastian at the Six Soft Furs, the local brothel.) The next morning most of the party met up (Sebastian slept in and the bouncer refused to let them in to wake him) and met Hawkeye and Murgum’s animal companions, heading north to find the stronghold.
The whole way to the Stronghold was an open plain dotted with small groves of trees. Hawkeye, not wanting to be spotted immediately, decided to use them as cover in their approach. From their hiding spot they made out the stronghold. It was a dillapidated and ruin, having fallen into ruin when its last owner gave it up. But it appeared the goblins had taken up residence. The had fortified the central tower and some of the crumbling outer wall, with guards partolling regularly. They also saw an catapult, a weapon which could be a danger to if they were spotted then. The group quickly had to scramble to arms however as two warg riding goblins attempted to warn of their position, but were soon cut down. As their fight ended they heard the blowing of a horn, an obvious battle signal. An force was approaching from the south, directly across the plains. Hawkeye could make out the standard of Fairstop and recognised several of the serving soldiers. The stronghold courtyard practically emptied as golbins, hobgoblins and bugbears rushed south to meet them. The party took advantage of this and infiltrated the courtyard, making fast work of the guards who had remained behind.
Leaving the animals to hunt down the straglers and fleeing goblins the entered the central tower and were met by several groups of goblinoids, tearing through them as they asecended the tower. Most climbed by the ladders, but Murgum and Arcamedes climbed the unused chimney to surprise the group on the towers battlements. In a curious bit of construction work they found a trap door on the top which descended down through and below the tower.
The party now founds themselves under ground, quite a distance below the tower. They descended further down a slope to find more fighting. They found found both hobgoblins and orcs waiting for them but they posed no real challenge. A huge stone door blocked their path but they soon found its key – strapped to the belt of the jail guard. Once slew they climbed down to find several prisoners. Three girls, all from fairstop, a proud orc by the name of Krunt who had refused to co-operate on the honourless bandit work the goblins and his people had been propogating recently and two elves, one a sun elf and the other a moon elf. The moon elf had suffered horrible torture and rape at the hands of the hobgoblins leaders, reportedly a pair of hobgoblin twins known for their brutality and sadism. A halfling also hung by his wrists, but he had long since perrished. As the girls and elfs left to meet the force from fairstop Krunt joined the party, pointing them to the armoury/treasure room of the stronghold. Here they fought a goblin who seemed to have much more combat experience than most, backed up by a spellcaster and two warriors. Though the goblin held his own he soon fell alongside his comrades. The party raided the room for anything of use, some of them trading older weapons for newer ones. Adam also found a new, and magically enchanted, pistol. It was now that Sebastian McKenzie arrived, catching up to them by entering directly into the treasure room via a tent in the courtyard above. After he had his pick they set off to open the huge stone door, with its oversized stone key (this proved challenging in itself as the door was very heavy and was opened by the key having a rope twist around it).
As the door finally slammed open three goblins dashed off in one direction, one being felled as he ran. They followed and found a temple to Maglubiyet, the goblinoid god. After cutting down three animated skeletons, Hawkeye began smashed at the huge idol in the chamber while Murgum followed a small passage he found. Guessing correctly that the goblins had gone this way he soon found himself in a small room made for two scouts, an early warning system of sorts. However his way forward was blocked. They left the temple and headed down the only corrider at the t-section they had not been down. They found little resistance here beyond two orcs, though the did find a torture chamber and a room of preserved elven corpses, which did not hold well with Hawkeye. He actually took one of the torture devices (effectively a phallic-shaped morningstar, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination) and planned to use it on the torturer. Breaking their way through the iron cage door at the end of the corrider they kicked in a double door only the see their next challenge, a Tanarukk. Some had heard of these creatures before, a creature born of an orc and a demon, but had never fough, or even seen one. It held a mual and roared, the flames in the fire pit before it rising high. They also noted the presence of the a Priestess of Grummsh, in the back as well as several goblins and hobgoblin soldiers. The fight was hard, with Murgum losing his shillelagh to the fire pit and the Tanarukk hurling eventually hurling his maul in a straight line through Hawkeye, Adam and Sebastian before lighting himself on fire and trying to grapple them. In the end they won out, though stlightly battered and ran on.
In the final room they saw a flurry of activity. A group in the centre caught their attention. Hawkeye saw a hobgoblin carrying a double sword, the sword bringing back painful memories of why he hunted goblinoids. They also noted what looked like a hobgoblin cleric, a red wizard, an orc of unusual size and a goblin running on all fours. As the party entered the room there was an explosion of dust and light. When it cleared the party saw a grouping of minions from the various factions they had faced on the way there (goblinoids, gnolls, orcs and human mercenaries and bandits). They made fast work of them and explored the room. They found some maps pointing which had areas in the Heartlands circled. Sebastian found some transcriptions which were exactly the same as the ones he had been given. He kept them to himself for now too. He did however tell everyone else that the circle on Hill’s Edge likely pointed to the tavern The Golden Mug, which was mentioned in the orders he had been given.
Returning to Hill’s Edge the party split up to find the tavern. Sebastian finally revealed the translations he had, figuring it would be easier to find them as a group than take the glory for himself. Through talking to city officials and looking through records they discovered that the Golden Mug was now named the Horse’s Rest, having been bought by a new owner. Two events conspired inside the tavern; Hawkeye found a local sheriff and spoke to him, discovering that any merchants who drank at the tavern ended up spilling all their plans and later being robbed on the road. He suspects a thieves guild. At the same time Adam was robbed of his bag of holding and pulled out his pistol, threatening to start firing. The cook, from the back room, immediately gave up a waiter and handed over the bag. Adam, with Sebastian, left and took the thief down a back alley. Here the Sheriff also caught up with him. The sheriff left the thief to Adam, who shot him and left his body in the alley. As the shot is fired Sebastian, seeing the crowded street turn and look at the alley, darts back to the tavern. Adam swaggers back to the tavern. Hawkeye, disgusted by the sheriff’s dirty dealings, heads back… and sees a goblin serving drinks. Seeing red, Hawkeye pulls the bartender over the bar and holds a knife to his throat. Chaos erupts as patrons flee, waiters pull out weapons and more members of the guild burst through a basement door. The party slaughter them and proceed downstairs, where the guild leader and his lieutenants were counting takings. Hawkeye recognized the leader as Crynn Lussian, a wanted assassin who killed two Candlekeep monks and stole a rare book, identified by the snake coiled around his neck. The fight was a struggle as the leader proved a talented swordsman, but they triumphed. Using the notes Sebastian has the party touch the shields on each wall of the room and recite the pass phrase;
“We people four mean no harm to the realms, we need your help to save this world, give us the gifts you hide around here, oh Liondernal, of the Liberty Guild”.
However, whereas the walls Hawkeye, and Arcamedes (Murgum couldn’t reach) touched glowed green, Sebastian and Adam’s glowed red. Nothing happened. In his mind Hawkeye surmised that those who were corrupted by evil acts were warded. As luck would have it the sheriff entered the room. With Murgum standing on boxes they enacted the ritual again. This time a hole materialized in the floor, with a ladder leading down. Adam immediately tried to enter, but found himself still warded, standing over the empty space. Laughing, Hawkeye, Murgum and Arcamedes descended into the small room, where they found the cloak they were looking for. Trying it on they found it weighed to heavy for them to move, even knocking Murgum to the ground. They folded it and put it away. Hawkeye also took a small painting and a letter from the desk in the room. The letter was a will from the previous owner, leaving to tavern to the city for development. The painting was of the The Liberty Guild. In the painting Hawkeye could Lord Hasseth and a personal hero of his, the ranger Fernion Sellfaren. After receiving a reward from the Mayor, and handing in Lussian’s head for the bounty pay, they retired to town to spend their rewards.