Gwen Schiller wandered off to be alone for a while during which time she would ponder the mysteries contained within the pixie kings spell book. Frank, Wilhelm and their remaining retainers set off to do a little more exploration. In an adjoining room they discovered a possessed straight-jacket which ended up constricting their retainer ‘Tom’ to death. Pressing on the band found a room full of hacked bear bones. Entering the room set off a crude axe trap which tore into the side of Frank. Frank and Wilhelm both despaired at the futility of the trap but Frank consoled himself with some bear claws and teeth.
Running dangerously low on retainers the group contemplated a return to the surface where they would also be able to purchase some plate mail. The plan was abandoned in favour of assisting the goblins in their war with the orcs. It was hoped that by aiding the goblins the group would gain their assistance in the exploration and looting of Stonehell. With Garuk and Forgath, their goblin scouts, in the lead the group set off to meet with the remaining members of the Wolf gang. On the way the band learned of Garuk and Forgath’s history. As it transpired they had been part of a failed coup which saw the prior goblin king Bograg killed. As a result of their rebellion the pair were sold into slavery only to be later purchased by the group. Somewhat worried with how the Wolf gang might react to the presence of the traitors, the band pressed on regardless.
Led through the twisting corridors the band arrived at a room wherein waited a group of kobolds with a litter laden with food, wine and bolts. The kobolds were to do business with the wolf gang who had asked for supplies and promised the kobolds 50 gold for their delivery. The goblins were late. The party entertained the prospect of purchasing the goods themselves but found the price too steep. Once the kobold traders had left the Wolf gang goblins arrived. A secret door in the wall slid to one side and a goblin head looked in. The goblin grunted in surprise then saw the goblin traitors Garuk and Forgath, by the group’s side. Grunting again the Wolf gang goblin tribesman attempted to close the secret door. Thinking quickly Wilhelm used his boot to prevent the door closing. The heroes began negotiations and won the goblins as allies in return for their assistance in their war with the neighboring orc tribe.
An ambush of the orcs was planned and some nearby tunnels reconnoitered. During the exploration a crystal statue animated and battled the group injuring a bugbear ally. As they explored further their one armed retainer renamed ‘Tom II’ figured he had had enough after being ordered to constantly risk his life opening doors and entering rooms first. He was sure his luck would run out and figured he would take his chances with the dungeon denizens. He was allowed to go once he had turned over everything he owned, clothes and all.
The orc war was gloriously swift. A high vaulted chamber in which the band had earlier battled orcs was re-occupied by their porcine foes. Battle was joined and with the aid of the bugbears their foes dispatched. The band then set an ambush wherein a lone goblin would incite the closest orcs so that they would pursue into this chamber where they would be met with a volley of arrows and bolts from waiting goblins and smashed in the flank by bugbears. This plan worked surprisingly well with 18 orcs put to the sword, including their leader who took a bugbear with him thanks to a messy critical hit. Other than the bugbear only 2 goblins fell as they failed to get a second volley of arrows off before the tide or orcs hit them.
A search of the orc lair found many orc women and children whom the band decided to sell to the kobold slave market. Wilhelm decided to keep an orc child and wet-nurse so that he could raise the child himself hoping to one day experience the creatures inevitable betrayal. Either that or he wanted someone else to carry his grand pavilion. They also liberated a badly burnt gnome who was next on the orchish menu. He told them about his failed adventuring party and how they had battled and surrendered to the orcs. They had hoped to escape but instead had been eaten one by one. The gnome fled to the surface thanking the band for his freedom. Frank discovered the orc leaders war chest. Ducking down and using his shield as cover he used the orc bosses own key to open the chest. A spitting cobra living within the chest spat venom at Frank, which spattered his shield harmlessly. Wilhelm found the concept of a snake in a box ludicrous and laughed at Franks plight. His laughter drew the attention of the serpent that promptly spat venom in Wilhelm’s eyes. This further confounded Wilhelm for he considered himself at a safe distance. Frank smashed the snake with his war hammer while Wilhelm desperately bathed his eyes with any and all liquid to hand but to no avail. He was blinded, permanently it would seem.
Frank rushed his stricken comrade to the kobold markets hoping to find a priest. The kobolds, having no shamans of their own, recommended the priests of the evil order whom Frank had had a violent disagreement on his first trip to the markets. Frank was fortunate that the priests were about gathering supplies in their ongoing quest to find a rogue plague carrier called Malefeces, all in the name of their dark god the duke of bones Thazridun. Masquerading as fellow cultists Wilhelm solicited the priests aid and after some time and a ritual bathing of his eyes with bile like liquid best left unmentioned, Wilhelm’s sight returned. The price of this service was the rancid mushrooms harvested earlier from the pixie grove. Given the priests obvious evil Frank was itching to smash them with his hammer. However they were the only thing approximating a healer for miles and so Frank erred on the side of discretion.
At some point the heroes met up with Trustee Sniv the kobold overseer of the markets. Both Wilhelm and Frank were fascinated by Trustee Sniv’s magnificent Fez. They recruited Sniv’s remaining bugbear guards on the promise that they would teach the hobgoblins a lesson. The party had been fomenting a war between the two factions for some time, a war that threatened to come to a head based on the infamous kobold head kicking incident. The band was also promised 10 slaves when they next arrived should they capture the hobgoblin Khan. With goblin and bugbear allies secured the group returned to the surface and set off to Drellin’s Ferry to purchase better armour, some supplies and perhaps recruit a follower or two.
Frank recruited a fellow from the militia, this man would later have his face torn off by a mountain lion in the first combat he saw. Ah the short brutal life of a hireling. Armour was purchased from the town Bürgermeister and the notion of hiring of a large mercenary force 50 strong was entertained. A mercenary called ‘Shovel’ was hired from the tavern and the band waited close to a week for traders to arrive in town so they could off load some jewelry they had liberated from the dungeon.
Well prepared, the group returned to stone hell and gathered their allies for a strike against the hobgoblins. They managed to gain an audience with the Khan who arrived to meet them accompanied by bodyguards and mountain lions. Frank claimed to have news about the orcs and goblins saying the two groups had wiped each other out. The Khan gestured to the band of goblins behind Frank mentioning that many of the goblins seemed alive and well. Frank looked sheepish and Wilhelm changed the topic.
‘So how about those kobolds eh? Dastardly blighters we should do something about them….’
’Get the Khan!’ Frank interrupted.
The Wolf gang goblins launched a volley of arrows at the Khan, many finding their mark. Wilhelm levitated to the ceiling using his magic boots and drew a bead with his crossbow on the Khan as the hobgoblin leader retreated back to his fortified lair, leaving his guards to do battle. The bolt went wide and the Khan escaped. The battle between his guards and the party was brutal and long. The Wolf gang rained arrows into the combat often striking friend instead of foe and the mountain lions took their toll tearing bugbear and man limb from limb. Frank felt his ribs shatter from the strike of a mountain lions heavy paw. Moments later he lost consciousness from blood loss. The battle was barely won thanks to the timely charge of the goblins that had abandoned their tactic of shooting both friend and foe in the melee. With the Khan escaped and gathering reinforcements Wilhelm ordered the goblins pick up his companion and retreat. While unconscious Frank still managed to mumble something about grabbing the loot to which Wilhelm insisted they didn’t have time.
Returning to the kobolds, Wilhelm convinced them that the battle against the hobgoblins had gone splendidly and in fact had been all but won when a rogue ogre, surely employed by the dastardly Khan, had given the heroes a good kicking and forced them to retreat. With the kobolds brushed off for the time being Wilhelm desperately sought the aid of the evil priests. He scanned the market place frantically and was fortunate as the priests were indeed there. This time they took as payment the pixie kings heart as well as 100 gold. Frank was restored to consciousness and his broken ribs healed by the prayers of the sinister hooded priests.
The Khan had escaped them for now and dramatically reduced the size and strength of the party as they were now bereft of their mighty bugbears, all slain in the hobgoblin conflict. Frank raised his fist and shook it at the ceiling. ‘Khan!’