In attendance this session was the Human Wizard, the Human Rogue, the Elven Ranger, the Elven Fighter, the Half-Elven Cleric (formerly warlord), and the Halfling Ranger's first appearance. She was brought in partway through the session. We jumped in right where we left off, as the final Kruthik fell to the ground dead. The party was unable to discover anything by searching the area, as the Kruthiks has destroyed any footprints with their own. It was decided that they would continue downwards and try to find any sign of the Graygrinder family. After about another hour of travel they entered an even larger tunnel.
The system they were in was a tributary of an even larger cavern system. The Kruthik tracks ended where their caves met the larger cave. The party was able to search around and find a few partial footprints, booted humanoids had been here. A relatively short distance deeper into the cave the party came upon a larger cavern. The sharp eyed elven members of the party were able to function better in this low light environment. Two dimly burning torches were spotted burning against the cavern's far wall. In an attempt at subterfuge the Wizard used mage hand to levitate a torch ahead of the party, to the entrance of the large cave. Arrows zipped out of the darkness and a harsh yell demanded identification.
Shortly following that a group of Hobgoblin warrior charged around the corner and straight for the wizard. The quick actions of the party Rogue saved him, as he dashed up and in a flurry threw his enchanted knife in a blur, killing most of the warriors almost right away. Bolstered by this initial success they moved into the room, and started drawing fire from some archers hiding in the deeper darkness. In the center of the room a large Hobgoblin Warlord bellowed challenges to the party, and the Rogue answered. In a furious blow the Warlord's hammer knocked the Rogue from his feat, leaving searing flame dancing across his prone form. The party rushed forward to recover their fallen comrade, exactly what the Warlord was hoping for. He turned to a new target, the Elven Fighter now slashing and stabbing at him with a trident, and began to wear him down. The archers peppered the less armored members of the group, focusing on the Cleric as she began bolstering her allies.
The Warlord's tone started turning to one of defiance and encouragement as the party began targeting his archers. As the party moved into the room they illuminated slaves chained together in the corners of the room. One of these slaves, our Halfling Ranger, began slipping out of her bindings. The Elven fighter went down, but the fight clearly had turned against the Hobgoblins and it was just a matter of time before they were defeated. The Halfling Ranger slipped out and snuck the bow right off of a Hobgoblin's back, shooting him and his ally. The Wizard blasted two of the archers into the cave wall, and they crumpled into a heap. The Warlord eventually fell to the combined might of the party, and the fight ended shortly after that.
The party's search of the fallen Hobgoblins turned up little new information, but they did find keys which they used to release the captives. All of the Hobgoblins wore thin metal collars, and the leader had a powerful flaming warhammer. The captives were all small. Most were members of the smaller races, goblins, gnomes, halflings and the like. Among the captives were the two Graygrinder children. Upon releasing the captives, most of them bolted without a word. Three halflings, natives of the area, stayed and answered the party's questions, but unfortunately they did not know much. The day was most certainly gone, even though this deep underground it was impossible for the party to tell.
After some initial fear and trepidation that on the journey to the surface they would be attacked by Kruthiks again, the party walked all the way back topside and found a safe place to rest for the night. The two Rangers, feeling tough, decided to try and find something fresh for the party. They stumbled upon a freshly killed deer and two territorial wolves feeding on it. A short and painful battle later the Rangers waltz into camp with a partially eaten deer and a wolf carcass.
Back in Fallcrest the party dropped the Graygrinder children off with Constable Blackshield, who asked payment for the inconvenience, and brought Constable Morlinar up to speed. They promised to return to the caverns to locate the father of the family, did some quick shopping, and called it a day. The next morning they left for the Scarred Caverns, hoping to find some good news inside.
After a lengthy but uneventful journey they found themselves outside the enterance to this strange underground building. Just inside the entryway they saw a large font in the center of the room, shaped like a skull and formed from bones. As one of them entered to examine it several skeletal forms animated and moved to attack the party. Half of them burst into flames as they did so, and it was on. The non-flaming skeletons crumbled before the party's might, but the fiery ones were able to put the hurt on several people, igniting the rogue again and letting him burn for much of the encounter. This was twice in a row this had happened to him. The Cleric was able to call upon her God and the party beat back the skeletons. Afterwards the Cleric took a few minutes to desecrate the empty pool. She felt it lose its power and it began to crumble right away.
We ended there. This session happened a month ago, almost, and while I remember most of what I had planned for, things like the trip to town are vague and the details fuzzy.
This was a good session. I really, really enjoyed running the Hobgoblin NPC during the fight. I don't know if the players will have as fond memories about the event. No more skill challenges, I need to think about them some more. This happens to me all the time, but I really thought that they would get further along this session. I need to scale back those expectations, otherwise things go poorly, I end up skipping things and it becomes a speed run.