While still traveling across the hills, the party witnessed a strange event late at night. As Petya the cleric kept watch, he noticed a shadow spreading across the moon. To his surprise and horror, the shadow seemed to be about to devour the entire moon. He quickly woke the others. They watched as the entire moon disappeared. However, after about an hour, the moon began to emerge from the shadow again. They had a feeling that this was not a good omen.
The party traveled for another day and, as night was falling, they saw the glow of a village just over the hilly horizon. Soon they arrived at the entrance to the village of Goblin’s Tooth. After checking in with sentries at the front gate, they made their way toward the only building that seemed to still be awake—the boisterous Staggering Dragon Tavern. After enjoying some beverages, including a cup of goat’s milk, the party left to find an inn for the evening. On the way out, Rhúnen the rogue practiced her skills by picking the pocket of a merchant seated at a table in the common room. She managed to lift a pouch with several coins in it.
After passing the night in the Shady Oak Inn, the party spent a day exploring the village. They learned about the history of the village, including the Goblin Wars of two decades ago in which local heroes drove back goblin hordes and banished them into the Dimshadow Woode to the south. The party also found a trading post where they pawned the jewelry that Gasha was carrying (probably for a lot less than it was worth!) They equipped themselves with new weapons, armor and supplies at the trading post, as well as the local armorer. The armorer informed them that there would be a town council meeting at the Shady Oak Inn that night and suggested that they attend to learn more about current events in the village.
While waiting for the meeting to begin, the party met Jarbryn Redfist a female dwarf who seemed very defensive (about being both female and a dwarf), was easily insulted, and was quick to challenge anyone to an arm wrestling match to prove her strength. The strongest member of the party, Gasha the ranger, took up the challenge but lost the match to the strong-armed dwarf. This however (along with the fact that Gasha was another female fighter) seemed to warm Jarbryn up to the party.
Soon the town council meeting began and it seemed quite boring at first—a local merchant complained about price gouging by the proprietor of the trading post, and the priest of the local church griped about noise and violence at a local tavern… when suddenly the doors burst open and a ragged looking woman and her two children rushed into the common room. The women tearfully told about how goblins had just raided her home, stealing livestock and foodstuffs and slaying Otto, her husband. The family fled while their home burned. As the woman finished her tale, a couple of townsfolk hastened out to summon Sir Derrick, the local reeve. When Sir Derrick arrived, he immediately put the town on alert, adding further orders to double watches, post lookouts, and send armed parties out to patrol the village perimeter. He then commanded his sergeant to sound the horn that summoned the town militia.
Some of the townspeople clamored for immediate retaliation and the re-capture of the homestead, but the Reeve cautioned against this course of action, pointing out that the night is goblins’ ally. “Otto lies slain – there is nothing we can do about that now,” he said, “But the horn will summon the homesteaders within our walls, so all others may be safe until the dawn. We will serve Otto best by defending our homes tonight.”
The Reeve then turned his attention to the party. He approached Jarbryn the Dwarf, a friend of his, and asked if she and her companions would go to find out exactly what had happened at Otto’s homestead. The Reeve explained that it would be a few days before the militia was assembled and ready for offensive action. In the meantime, he asked the party to evaluate the potential threat. He offered them a reward of 50 gold coins each. The party accepted the offer and agreed to set off on their journey at first light.
The next morning, the party traveled south toward Otto’s homestead. They arrived to find a smoldering barn that had been burnt to the ground, but they were surprised to find no signs of raiding or looting. All the valuables were still present. The body of Otto was laid out neatly with a sword placed next to it. Some crude bindings and herbs had been applied to his wounds before he died.
Gasha the ranger was able to easily identify a trail leaving the area, made by about ten small humanoids dragging heavy sacks or something similar. The party followed the trail to the edge of the Dimshadow Woode about 2 miles south of Otto’s homestead. In a depression next to the Woode, they found that several goblins, including females and young, had set up a crude camp. When he saw the party, the leader of the goblins did not attack but rather stepped forward and said, in broken Common tongue, “Thrask knew hoomans come. Thrask not want war. Thrask’s people starve.” He explained that a “hizra-krontos” had forced his people out of the wood.
Jarbryn, the Goblin-speaking dwarf, was able to roughly translate hizra-krontos as “flesh-tearer.” Thrask described the creature as brown, hairy, and about the size of a battering ram. His people, he said, would gladly return to the woods and leave the hateful sun (which was badly burning and peeling their skin), but the hizra-krontos would slay them. If the party would slay the hizra-krontos and return to Thrask with proof (a severed left ear would do), Thrask would give his bone necklace, proof of his worthiness in battle and symbol of his rank as battle captain, as a promise that the goblins would return to the wood. The party agreed to help and Thrask handed them a small pouch, containing 12 green berries. “Mrantas,” he said. “Good when hurt.”
The party then entered the dark, forbidding wood. After a couple miles of travel along a damp trail, they accidentally triggered a pit trap (apparently set by the goblins for the hizra-krontos). Jarbryn, who was walking in front, fell through the camouflage cover and was injured by wooden spikes at the bottom of the pit. The spikes were coated with Goblin stool (yuck!) but fortunately the hardy dwarf did not contract any disease. In attempting to get the dwarf out of the hole, the party realized that it would probably have been a good idea to bring a rope with them! Fortunately, the ranger used her forest skills to braid some vines together into a makeshift rope. Rhúnen the rogue vowed to check for traps in the future. This, however, considerably slowed down the progress of the party through the woods.
Further into the woods, the party came to a clearing which seemed to have been the site of a recent battle. Carrion birds and flies were feeding on the bodies of several dead goblins thrown about like toys. The ranger found strange tracks, like those of a giant insect, leading away from the clearing. The party followed the tracks into another clearing with a strange mound in its center. Xeon the magic-user suggested that there was no need to check for traps since the goblins had probably already sprung them in the battle. No sooner did he say this than the party walked into another trap! A trip wire caught the magic-user and the cleric in a sticky net made of web-like material and held them suspended up in the trees. A grotesque spider-like humanoid creature emerged from the mound and attacked the party, but was slain by the party’s melee weapons and crossbow bolts.
Rhúnen cleverly lowered the netted heroes by slowly removing stones from the sack which served as a counterweight mechanism. The mound-lair of the creature was dark, but the party once again improvised with vegetation in the woods to create a makeshift torch which they lit to illuminate the interior (they also noted that next time they should bring a light source!) Inside the foul, stinking lair they discovered the bloated bodies of a half-dozen dead goblins wrapped in web cocoons. They also found a skeleton with a rotting backpack that contained several coins and a scroll that Xeon recognized as a Shield spell. He decided to write this in his spell book once he returned to the village.
Speaking of returning to the village… it was getting late and the party figured that if they started backtracking right away, they would arrive at the entrance to the woods by nightfall. No one wanted to hang out in these woods at night! As they moved single file around the pit trap that had injured Jarbryn earlier, they were suddenly set upon by a swarm of giant spiders that attacked the cleric who was taking up the rear of the party. Xeon was bit by a spider and felt a poison spreading through his body, causing his arms to grow numb and stiff. Nevertheless, he was able to cast a Magic Missle spell which burned one of the spiders to a crumpled crisp. Fortunately Rúnen and Petya helped slaughter the remaining spiders even before the dwarf, who had been in front, could run around the other side of the pit to attack. She seemed disappointed to have missed the battle!
The party told Thrask the Goblin that they had not yet found the hizra-krontos but that they would return the next day after resting in the village. They suggested that he accompany them tomorrow to show them where his lair was. Thrask was reluctant to travel with humans, but it seemed like he could be persuaded…
Finally, as darkness descended, they returned to the village and informed the Reeve about what they had found out. They volunteered to return to the Dimshadow Woode the next morning to slay the hizra-krontos so that the goblins could return to their home and no longer raid the human homesteads. The Reeve expressed his gratitude and gave them their 50 gold piece (gp) rewards. They decided to use the money to equip themselves better before setting out. They were tired and quickly fell into a sound sleep, though the night was interrupted by disturbing dreams about what a “hizra-krontos” might turn out to be…