Oathday, 15 Rova 4707
Just after dawn, the Sandpoint Heroes marched from the North Gate of Sandpoint along the Lost Coast Road. The plan was to follow the road northeast until the road crossed the Thistle River over a stone bridge. They would then leave the road and follow the river north through Nettlewood to the coast east of Thistletop, then follow the coastline west until they found it. Charrone rode her warhorse, but the rest of the group walked. They made it to the river without incident after an hour, and followed the river as it made its way through the moors. After about a quarter-mile, the moors gave way to a scrubby forest that got denser as they approached the coastline. There was no trail along the river, but they did find a game path that led in the right direction. The terrain also got rockier, with large boulders and deep ravines that cut through the hillsides, making it difficult to follow the river, and after an hour they lost their bearings. Halfred also noted that the plant life included a lot of irritating plants, including poison ivy and stinging nettles. The trees got shorted and the underbrush got thicker as they got closer to the shore. The party tried to put rumors of strangle vines out of their minds.
At about an hour before noon, they made it to a rocky overlook on a sea cliff, and spied Skull Rock about a half mile to the west. It was indeed a gigantic round boulder, about 80 feet in height, and perhaps 100 feet of the shore. The top of the boulder was more-or-less at the same height as the opposite sea cliff, and a large wooden fort had been built on its top. There was some kind of bridge that connected the rock to the mainland. It was too distant to see any activity.
The party found a goblin path that led to a dense thicket of thorny bushes that grew on the edge of the cliff opposite the bridge. Halfred noticed tracks that seemed to go in and out of the thicket, and discovered a woven mat of branches and leaves that had been placed over an opening in the thicket. Moving it aside, Halfred got the distinct odor of goblin from the chamber within.
The passage into the dense thicket was barely five feet tall and only two feet wide, and Charrone decided that getting her horse into that passage would not be a smart decision, so she tied the horse in the woods, giving it plenty of slack to defend itself. Halfred stooped over and entered. Almost immediately upon entering, Halfred stepped onto a covered pit and fell in. Fortunately, it was only five feet wide, so climbing out wasn’t difficult. Larissa scouted ahead for a few moments, and reported that the tunnels opened up into larger chambers, and that she saw a few of the rat-like goblin dogs ahead. The group moved through the tunnels into the first large chamber. The branches of a tree held up the canopy of thorns, but the major feature of this chamber was the open hole in the middle. Sounds of surf could be heard coming from the hole. MacGreggor looked in, and saw nothing but darkenss, so he cast dancing lights and sent a globe of light down into the hole. It went pretty much straight down for 70 feet, ending in a chamber. The ceiling of the chamber seemed to be about 10 feet above the surface of the water, which was churning. MacGreggor brought back the light.
The party then moved to attack the goblin dogs in the next thistle-walled chamber. The eight rat-like creatures fought ferociously. While fighting the goblin dogs, a goblin appeared to step out of the thistles as if they had been a silk curtain. He wore hide armor, and had numerous amulets, medallions, talismans, and fetishes adorning his body. He then cast a spell, and a small globe of flame launched from his hand toward Charrone, singeing her slightly. Halfred ran forth and smashed the goblin in the gut with his earthbreaker, and the goblin stepped back into the hedge of nettles as if it wasn’t there. The party turned its attention back to the goblin dogs.
Just as the last of the goblin dogs fell, goblins began to stream into the room. These goblins seemed to be using gear that was ragged even by goblin standards: their dogslicers seemed to be ever rustier and flimsier than usual, and their leather armor was in a very bad state of repair. The goblins themselves appeared to be thinner than typical. Nevertheless, they fought with typical goblin ferocity. During the fight, the goblin spellcaster stepped out of the hedge again, and this time cast a spell at Halfred. Halfred felt his armor get warmer for a brief moment, but then it returned to its normal temperature. Larissa, hiding in the underbrush, managed to hit the goblin shaman in the back with an arrow, and again he stepped into the brush.
MacGreggor cast a spell that caused several of the goblins to fall asleep, and Ted cast a spell that caused Halfred to grow to 10 feet tall again. The goblins were little match to a giant-sized Halfred, and the Sandpoint Heroes prevailed with minimal damage. However, just as they started to lower their guard, a man-sized wildcat pounced on Halfred! The cat was a locally common orange-and-black striped creature called a firepelt, and it managed to maul Halfred somewhat seriously before he and Charrone killed it.
Exploring the rest of the tunnels through the thicket of brambles, the party found what was apparently the shaman’s chamber, and while the hand-made totems hung from the ceiling seemed genuinely creepy, they didn’t find much of value. Later, they found a chamber that until recently housed about 10 goblins, although their supplies seemed to be in a very sorry state. While that part remained a mystery, none of the party members seemed to think it was worth trying to solve with all of those goblins dead.
While searching that room, in the distance, they heard the sound of a conch horn being blown in three short bursts, followed by another three short bursts. Ted suggested that someone had tipped off the fortress that they were under attack, so they pressed forward quickly. They found a tunnel that led to an opening in the thicket right on the edge of the sea cliff. Thistletop stood directly ahead, but to reach it, everyone would have to cross a rickety rope-and-plank bridge that was supported by two stout wooden posts on either side of the chasm. Goblin sentries on two 30-foot watchtowers could be seen, as could a patrol of goblins mounted on goblin dogs.
Without debate, Halfred charged across the bridge, screaming, and brandishing his earthbreaker. Still 10 feet tall by Ted’s spell, Halfred was a very imposing figure. Unfortunately for Halfred, the bridge was trapped: As soon as he made it to the middle, the right rope supporting the bridge came loose, and one side of the bridge went slack. Dropping his earthbreaker hammer, Halfred managed to grab hold of the rope before he plunged 80 feet into the water and jagged rocks below! Unfortunately, he now became an excellent target for the six goblin archers, three on each tower. Luckily for Halfred, the goblins seemed to be poor shots, and he made his way hand-over-hand to the Thistletop side. With a mighty cry, Halfred swung himself onto the ledge of Skull Rock, and managed to knock two goblins off the ledge in the process! Once on his feet, he drew his greataxe and started chopping up goblins.
While Halfred faced three goblin dogs and their riders, four additional goblin guards, and six entrenched archers, the rest of the party fired missile weapons at the goblins from the sea cliff. Ted, MacGreggor, and Declan used their magical abilities to attack at range, Larissa fired volleys of arrows, and Charrone used her sling to let loose lead bullets at the goblins. Ulfen luck saved Halfred, who was only scratched a few times before he dropped the goblin riders and slew their mounts. The rest of the party managed to take down four of the foot soldiers with missile-fire before the remaining two retreated into the fortress. Halfred took that opportunity to re-tie the bridge, making it possible for the rest of the party to cross over
They then began to break down the front door.