18 Kythorn 1481 (continued)
We discovered that the reason for the earlier chanting from the chapel was the goblin priests preparing a sacrifice to their dark god, and found Gundren Rocksmasher bound to the altar. Some of the party freed him and tended to his injuries as the rest of us checked over the castle. As we were doing so, a young human woman appeared on the chapel’s rafters – after some tense greetings she introduced herself as Hema, a monk of Oghma on a mission to purify the chapel who had crept into the castle earlier that day and had been hiding in the remnants of old illusion magics in the rafters. As we were talking, noises in the forest to the north alerted us to the return of a hobgoblin hunting party, four hobgoblins (one of them with noticeable smarter attire than the other hobgoblins we’d seen) accompanied by two wolves and carrying the carcass of a deer. Noticing the carnage around the castle, they split into two groups and started circling around. Karrod headed to the castle’s western door while Shandri and I headed to the concealed entrance and the rest of our party waited in the chapel. As a couple of the hobgoblins got close to the concealed entrance, we loosed some ranged attacks – and a horrific tentacled creature with a wicked beak (which Declan identified as a grick) dropped from its concealment on the chapel’s ceiling to attack those gathered beneath.
Shandri held the concealed entrance while the rest of us rushed to deal with this new threat. The grick was slain, but while we were doing so Shandri fell and the hobgoblin leader headed to the owlbear’s chamber and started unbarring the door, with the other hobgoblins hemming us into the chapel. Fortunately I was able to slip around the side and cast the hobgoblin leader and the wolf accompanying him into a sorcerous slumber, then secure the door leading to the owlbear and decapitate a further hobgoblin who came to free it, as the other hobgoblins were dealt with and Shandri recovered. Catching our breath, we secured all of our hobgoblin prisoners in the storage room next to the bugbear chief’s chamber, made sure everyone else was definitely dead, and barricaded ourselves in the chief’s chamber till the morning.
19 Kythorn 1481
We questioned our hobgoblin prisoners, some of whom fortunately spoke the Common tongue, but did not get much useful information out of them. They did tell us that the bugbear leader had been named Groll, that what we thought was a drow who’d been posing as Lord Albreck was actually a shapeshifter and knew things it shouldn’t have known – possibly another abomination with the ability to tear thoughts from the minds of those around it? – and confirmed some of what we already knew about Black Spider and their plans. The captives said that if we spared their lives they would leave the village alone and stay in the area around the castle, but we decided it was best to kill them lest they head off to inform and reinforce Black Spider. We searched all the corpses from the castle and its grounds, piled them in a large heap and burnt them, then Karrod headed into the woods to find soporific herbs while the rest of us spent some hours with Hema instructing us, and then leading us, in the ritual to reconsecrate the castle’s chapel, with Declan leading the chanting in fine voice.
Karrod returned with handfuls of the herbs he’d been seeking and liberally dosed a haunch of deer, which he quickly threw into the owlbear’s chamber before slamming and barring the door again. After a short time the owlbear fell into a drugged stupor and we opened the door, discussed what to do with it, slew it and retrieved the chest from the ledge in the room, which contained 120 gold coins, 90 electrum coins, a potion of healing, and scrolls of the spells Silence and Revivify. While the hobgoblins and goblins had possessed little of worth, and the shapeshifter had carried only spell components and the fragments of exhausted spell scrolls, Lord Albreck’s distinctive staff of enchanted glass bore useful enchantments designed to cast defensive spells each day and constantly deflect blows aimed at the wielder. Satisfied that our work at the castle was done, we started heading back to the village., Gundren and Hema making our party two greater than when we’d left.
20 Kythorn 1481
Encountered another owlbear as we travelled through the woods, even larger than the one in the castle. The creature took a chunk out of Karrod, but was swiftly dispatched.
21 Kythorn 1481
Arrived back at the village late in the day, we told Sildar what we’d found at the castle, spoke to various other locals and discussed our plans. Sildar was alarmed by news of the shapeshifter, and became paranoid that others in the village might actually be shapeshifters in disguise, but we dissuaded him from a wild and appalling plan to use the nothic for widespread interrogations. He was disappointed that we’d been unable to find either Lord Albreck or certain proof of his death, but agreed to let us use the glass staff until Lord Albreck’s next of kin had been notified. Gundren was dismayed that his brothers hadn’t been heard from, and was eager to seek them out in the mine 15 miles to the east. We also heard rumours of undead at Old Owl Well, orcs at Wyvern Tor and a banshee at Coneyberry. The priestess tending the village’s shrine to Tymora asked us to seek the lost spellbook of the legendary mage Bojentle, which is apparently known of by the banshee (whose name is Agatha), and gave us a jewelled silver comb to offer the banshee as a gift in exchange for information.