Rescuing the horses
After a cursory search of the area around Sukiskyn, the party discover the camps of the three Goblin tribes and a few trinkets left behind. Also discovered was a Calarii elf prisoner called Padraig, who was travelling in the area seeking white horses for his clan. The party inform him that they are helping the local homesteader corral his herd of white horses and an extra hand is always needed. Padraig joins the party.
It isn’t long before Pytor asks the party to go after the horses taken by the Vipers during the night. Offered reasonable compensation the party agree and make their preparations, borrowing some of Sukiskyn’s riding horses. Taras, Pytor’s son, also wants to go and so joins the group.
The party head off east following a trail that is easily identifiable. After about 10 miles it turns south into the Dymrak Forest and after only a few hundred yards they reach a clearing and the scene of a gruesome battle where the Viper goblins have been attacked and massacred. Upon some of the dead a group of Oil Beetles are feeding, but they quickly sense live flesh and rush the party. The fight is a short one, with the party victorious, but during it a Viper hidden in a tree tried to escaped but is quickly thwarted and captured.
Interrogating the female goblin the party discover that the Vipers were chased and caught by wolf-riding Wolfskulls and that she is the only survivor. Many of the horses were killed but the rest were taken south through the forest. After gaining this information the party dispose of the goblin and head south.
The trail turns south east and after about 6 miles leads to an area with three old abandoned wagons, tented over to become tented accommodation. Beyond them is a small pen with horses in them, a great many of them white. No sooner does the party begin approaching the wagons when a shifty looking human appears from the shadows of a nearby tree and asks the party’s business. After a short conversation, a masculine looking female elf appears from one of the wagon-tents and introduces herself as Fyodorll. When asked to give back the horses she refuses but is willing to sell them for 50gp each.
Taras is outraged and demands the horses are handed back. This angers the ‘guards’, of which there are now four. Despite Fyodorll warning that a fight will turn ugly for the party, they resort to combat. Two bandits go down quickly, but Fyodorll casts a sleep spell and leave only Shorty and Dhavram standing. They both go for the elf who is put to death quickly. The other two bandits decide enough is enough and make a run for it.
Taras is overjoyed and starts seeing to the horses whilst the rest of the party are woken up. A total of 24 white horses are recovered, plus 8 brown ones. A further 2 warhorses are also there. Taras tells the party they are welcome to any of these 10 horses on returning to Sukiskyn and handing back the one’s that they borrowed.
Return to Sukiskyn
The journey back is not uneventful, and the party intercept a group of male refugees from Ilyakana heading to Sukiskyn. They are made up of Gregor the Lumberjack-boss (27), Yuri the Smith (38) and his twin assistants Grishka and Grishall (20). They inform the party that they were attacked two nights ago bby Wolfskulls and Red-blades and managed to hide; the crew of Kalanos’ boat have perished or been captured although Kalanos escaped into the woods; Pytor’s brother Stephen was one of the ones captured.
On return to Sukiskyn in the evening, Pytor’s joy at seeing the horses is shortlived when he hears of Stephen’s capture. Although he holds a small celebration to honour the characters, it is subdued. Whilst showing them around a slightly tided up Sukiskyn hall, he ones again asks the party to help him by seeking out his brother and offers half the proceeds from the sale of the white horses in Rifllian. He has no idea where the Wolfskull lair is although he knows the Vipers and Red-blades are to the southeast. The party accept the offer and set off in the morning. Taras remains at Sukiskyn, content to have found the horses.
In search of goblins
The party heads east and southeast into the Dymrak Forest seeking the lairs of the goblin tribes. Their first tactic is to start from the bandit camp and see if a goblin trail can be found from there. None is found but the party head deeper south into the forest anyway. By pure luck they stumble upon a clearing next to a sheer rockface, in which is a crude door with a red sword daubed on the front and standing slightly ajar. After waiting for signs of goblins the party edge towards the entrance. Padraig notices a strange flapping of wings inside and is about to tell the others when they are attacked by 6 stirges flying out of the cave. However, the party once more make short work of the encounter and after a quick bit of healing head into the cave.
Within it is apparent the cave is abandoned. Another fight is had with a swarm of giant rats but the party is mostly unscathed and more importantly un-diseased. Navigating the tunnels they come across a solid iron-bound oak door. After taking the usual precautions they enter the obviously important room and find the Red-blades’ treasure trove. Within is a tapestry, a large ruby and a yew chest bound in iron. One of the party grabs the ruby whilst the chest is searched for traps. When none are found the chest is opened, causing the real trap, the ruby, to explode. The damage isn’t as bad as it could have been though and the party survive to recover a number of coins from the chest, as well as a couple of potions. With the Red-blade hideout thoroughly searched and no sign of Stephen, the party head off to seek either the Vipers or the Wolfskulls.
Taking a systematic approach to searching the forest takes time, but the party is rewarded with the discovery of the Viper lair; set in the rock wall on the far side of a slow running stream is a swollen wooden door with a snake symbol carved into it. The door is barred but unguarded, probably due to the losses had by the tribe. The party smash it down and move inside what seems like a cave complex. However, not far in they are set upon by 7 Viper goblins using a rough barricade to hinder the party’s progress. The party rush the barricade, forcing the surviving goblins back further into the complex. After some difficulties navigating the unground labyrinth, the Vipers are cornered and make their last stand. The encounter is difficult though, as the Viper leader slings live rock pythons as weapons. These poisonous snakes raise the anxiety of the heroes but they are not poisoned themselves and quickly kill off the last of the Viper tribe. Some treasure is found in the form of coins and potions.
After destroying two goblin tribes it’s only the Wofskulls that remain elusive. Searching further east and south in the Dymrak reveals a part of the forest that had experienced some kind of blight, effectively petrifying a huge area of trees. Not long into the stone trees, the party is attacked by giant bats. The blood-sucking capabilities of the bats lay low Dren the Halfling, who always had a phobia of flappy-things. The bats are only just defeated and the party and very much worse for wear, and so head back to Sukiskyn for some rest and recuperation.