The sheriff returned with the extra troops he needed a few uneventful days later and we gave a report on the happenings in town since he had left. The attack in the Glassworks, the tunnels, what we found in Pauper’s Grave.
We were paid a single gold piece for our time. Well, really, we were paid ten silver pieces, but whatever. It was ten days’ pay for a town guardsman.
Hamlin had a break from the theater and saw the rest of us strolling through the streets of Sandpoint and we discussed everything that had happened. We ended up deciding to head out east to investigate Thistletop, the location mentioned in Tsuto’s journal where the priest’s body was supposedly taken to be burned.
A few miles east of town, just past Shank’s Wood but before we reached the Pauper’s Grave cemetery again, we found an abandoned wagon.
Dante found a note:
Messrs. Mortwell, Hask, and Tabe-
A deal has come about that I need capital for. It involves property and gold, and though I am not at liberty to tell you the exact details, it will make us all rich. Come to Bradley’s Barn on Cougar Creek tonight. We can meet there to discuss our futures.
There was also a small chest. I looked it over along with Hamlin, who pointed out a trap in the locking mechanism. I tried to disarm it but a small puff of smoke shot into my face and inside the chest, causing me to cough a bit.
I unlocked the chest with relative ease afterward and found a number of scraps of paper, most of them almost destroyed. Probably what the smoke was meant to do: destroy evidence of whatever was inside.
Dante said, “I’ve got this,” and waved his hand and the paper scraps mended themselves back together in the chest.
“I guess I don’t always hate magic,” I whispered to myself.
There was a deed to Hamin’s Farm, and a promissory note for 100 gold from the Scarnetti family. I recognized the name as a rival family to my old Boss’s family back in Magnimar.
We turned north from the road and passed through Pauper’s Grave and the brush started getting thicker as we approached the Nettlewood. After making our way through the forest along the coast for a few hours, Cairn leading us, we could finally see Thistletop, an island attached to the mainland by a small bridge.
Cairn continued marching ahead of us, and moved to a patch of nettles and moved them out of the way to reveal a hidden door, with a small “room” cleared out amidst the shrubbery. The druid moved in further, his abilities allowing him to move freely through the brush, to search things out a bit.
Hamlin and I circled around to the east to search for other entrances or hiding foes. Hamlin spotted a goblin, and we returned to meet up with everyone. Cairn had found one as well, and tried creeping up on it through the brambles that didn’t impede him and his druidness.
His supernatural ability let him move unimpeded, but he could still step on twigs… which he did. One goblin let out a whistle, and the one Hamlin spotted wandered closer, before saying in Goblin, “I don’t see anything.” It wandered back to where it was before.
Hamlin and I crept around and tried to fire arrows at the one goblin, missing because the brush was thicker than we thought. It yelled out they were under attack after its bow broke and snapped into its face, and then it started running away.
Cairn intercepted it and it died in a quick, explosive spray of bloody death.
We could hear more goblins coming from the north, and Cairn stepped into the brambles to flank them as they moved in.
The first goblin didn’t last long, but it managed to dodge a swing from myself, the staff coming down hard into the packed earth, splintering one end. I liked that staff, but it wouldn’t be much use as a weapon anymore.
Dante started his singing as the other goblins approached, Cairn having moved into a chokepoint in the brambles to stop them. Hamlin pushed through the brush to attack one of the goblins, and Dante threw a kukri around the hulking half-orc, scoring a hit.
My path being blocked by my allies, I shouted for Cairn to duck a little, and ran up behind him, dropping my staff and springboarding off his back while drawing my rapier and new cold iron shortsword simultaneously. I spun in the air, landing behind one of the goblins. I missed with the rapier in my right hand, but ran it straight through the neck with the shortsword, severing its head.
Cairn stepped into the brush and Shadow ran past him to eviscerate the remaining goblin.
I picked up my staff, slinging it across my back, and we moved up a little ways before hearing more goblins behind the thick shrubbery. Our last fight had been far enough away that they didn’t hear it, so they weren’t on alert. Three were sleeping around a campfire with another three sitting around it. Another three were nearby, probably acting as sentries.
Cairn summoned a ball of flame on one of the sleepers, which died immediately in the blaze.
Hamlin and I tried to fire arrows into one of the guards but missed while Shadow took a bite out of another and Cairn stepped up, directing his flaming sphere to move onto yet another enemy, consuming it as well.
Hamlin crossbowed one in the face, and it fell over dead, while I stepped up and double stabbed another with my blades, killing it.
I heard another goblin catch fire and scream, then become unable to ever scream again.
“Man, that is one hardcore spell, Cairn,” I said.
The druid nodded.
I heard behind some of the bushes, “Uh-oh, Ripnugget’s not going to be happy...” followed by some light chanting. I saw a bird take off into the sky, and managed to knick it with an arrow, but it kept flying to the Thistletop island.
Emerging from the surrounding trees were a few of the goblins’ little rat-dog creatures and a goblin that was dressed more... naturally than goblins usually are. He looked like he was wearing bark for armor. Like a miniature, not-as-cool Cairn.
Coming from behind the dogs was a firepelt like Shadow, a dark black and red-furred cat the size of a mountain lion.
I fired an arrow at the goblin, but my foot slipped on a root when I stepped forward to line up the shot.
I heard Cairn chanting behind a wall of brush, then saw an earth elemental appear out of the ground and charge the enemy druid.
One of the dogs ran up and tried to bite me, and I stabbed it with both blades, the rapier ripping its gut open.
I heard the thwip of an arrow flying through the air and one of the other dogs let out a whimper, which Dante put an end to quickly as he pushed through the brush and shot flames out of his lute into it and the other remaining dog, both falling over in smoldering heaps.
The firepelt charged at Cairn and essentially negated the healing potion he drank a moment before. Dante stepped up to heal him, as the earth elemental attacked the enemy druid, wounding him badly.
“Have your friend stand down!” Cairn called out. The druid acquiesced, his cat returning to his side quickly as he pled for mercy and that we spare his life. We all gathered around the surrendering foe.
The goblin had a small bag hanging from his shoulder, and Cairn demanded he set it on the ground. The goblin complied.
“What’s across the bridge?” Cairn asked.
“Ripnugget, and the harpy.” He paused, looking slightly worried. “Uhh... don’t tell them I called her a harpy or they’ll kill me.”
“Why do you serve them?”
“I serve Ripnugget. He is my chief.”
“What are they doing?”
“I don’t know.”
“Was a ritual performed here? A body burned?”
“I don’t know. The longshanks do lots of weird things.”
Dante interjected. “How many longshanks are there?”
“There is the harpy, and two more. I think they are married. They go at it like donkeyrats.”
I chuckled at that.
“What can you tell us about those other longshanks?”
“The woman is a spellcaster of some kind.” He shrugged. “And the man wears lots of armor.”
He pled with us to not kill his tribe. Cairn told him to leave because he wouldn’t have a tribe by the time we were done.
He hung his head in defeat and quietly muttered his sister was married to someone in the Birdcrunchers tribe.
Cairn looked intently at the goblin before demanding he give us his cloak. The goblin slowly removed the cloak, stifling sobs as he handed it over.
“Go to the Birdcrunchers. You won’t have anything to come back to here,” Cairn told him as he disappeared through the brush of the Nettlewood.
The size of it seemed humorous as he put it on, but the cloak Cairn took from the goblin druid was a Cloak of Resistance, slightly strengthening his fortitude, reflexes, and ability to resist spells. I’d certainly like to get my hands on such an item some day.
Near the campfire we found all the goblins around was a small chest. Inside were two sets of Angora wool-lined leather armor, both magical. Hamlin and I took them, and putting on magic armor was an interesting experience. For the most part, it was relatively normal, but once equipped, it just fit better than any sort of armor I’d ever worn before. It felt like it was made for me, but I know it wasn’t. When I first held it up, it didn’t look like it would fit any better than what I already had.
The other things we found were a wand of Produce Flame and another of Tree Shape. Cairn took them both.
Under those items was about 800 gold worth of coins and gems.