After their conversation with Sir Keegan in the crypts, our band of adventures were casually exiting the shrine to Bahamut, back into the crypt area where they had confronted the zombies. Seems that it wasn’t empty anymore.
A patrol of approximately 9 Hobgoblins had just entered the area from outside with a prisoner in tow. They had just discovered the carnage in the goblin barracks and guard areas, and had just discovered what was left of the zombie “guards” when the players walked in on them. Nobody had surprise, but the party fought well. Yet they discovered that the Hobgoblins were decidedly trickier opponents than the goblin guards, especially a Warcaster, who managed to forcibly knock down several members of the party with a push gesture from his hand.
Of the hobgoblins, there were 1 Warcaster, 2 Archers, 2 Soldiers, and 4 Grunts (minions).
(In defeating this group, the party gained enough experience to cross the threshold into 3rd level)
Freeing the prisoner, they discovered Rolan, a half-elf druid and distant cousin to Brindle. In gratitude, and in order to help his cousin, Rolan agreed to join the group in confronting Kalarel. Rolan observed that Hobgoblins, Goblins, and Bugbears all part of the same species of goblinoids, and are often found together. Hobgoblins tend to be the leaders, as they take their martial prowess and organization seriously, while leaving the goblins to more menial tasks.
The party evaded the remaining terror runes left in the crypt. No sooner that Rolan had joined the party that he noticed a small switch in the ceiling. It revealed a secret door to what appeared to be a short alcove, that had obviously not been discovered by the Keep’s current occupiers. Immediately sensing magic, Aeren determined that the walls at the back of the alcove were illusory. Marcus poked his spear through the wall, only to have a zombie lunge out through the wall, and the illusion wall disappeared, revealing 5 undead guards. Beating a hasty retreat, the party rolled high on the initiative, and managed to dispatch 5 full-strength non-minion zombies before any of the zombies had a chance to act.
(Seriously, this encounter lasted for less than one round, and some of the players never even had a chance to act. Marcus got to try out his new Level 3 encounter attack power. Also Ankh rolled a critical hit on her breath-weapon with the zombies. Criticals auto-kill this particular type of zombie.)
In searching the remains of the hidden armoury, they found that virtually all the contents had succumbed to age. Rusting weapons and armour were of no more use to the players. However, they noticed a plaque above one of the rusting suits of armour. It read:
A wondrous treasure,
Valued by all, sought by many.
Found in both victory and defeat,
Yet never at the bottom of a treasure chest.
It marches before you like a herald,
And lives long after you are gone.
Of what do I speak?
The party immediately recognized this as a riddle. After discussing it with themselves they answered “Honour,” after which the suit of armour was bathed in glowing light, and immediately transformed into a pristine suit of scale armour. The scale-mail suit was identified as +1 Black Iron Armour. As Heskan is the only member of the party capable of wearing this suit, he claimed it. While it may need a bit of tailoring to suit his Dragonborn frame, he was still able to don the armour.
Meanwhile Brindle was examining a small satchel he had found on the shelf. It was uncharacteristic of any cloth to have survived eight decades in the conditions of these catacombs, so it caught his interest. When he opened the bag, it exploded outward, knocking him to the ground… not hurt, but bewildered. Looking up he discovered that this small room had been transformed into a campsite, complete with a burning campfire, four two-person tents, each with comfortable bedrolls. Due to the lack of space, the tents found themselves tacked to the walls! Realizing that this was an Instant Campsite, a special magic item that was widely used throughout the Empire of Nerath.
The party debated taking an extended rest in the safety of this secret room, but decided to press on for the moment, knowing that they could return to this site if they needed to have an extended rest.
In the main room just off of the hidden armoury, there were stairs that led down into a well-lit area. It opened into a large room, with four hobgoblin guards. Two in front of an apparent deep well, and two flanking a corridor on the far side of the room. Immediately, one of the guards stepped forward, challenging the party, and said “Shadow seeks shadow!” Obviously looking for a password, the party made no attempt to bluff their way through it and immediately readied their weapons. The hobgoblin shouted “Intruders!”, and rushed forward, while the other shouted back to another guard and said “release it!” Looking some seventy feet past the guards was a cage holding a gigantic spider as large as a full-grown human.
Over the course of the battle, several hobgoblins tried to tie the party down, while others tried to run to the cage in order to release the spider. There were tense moments, as even more hobgoblins joined the fray, but ultimately the party defeated the guards before they could have released a “Deathjump Spider” a particularly nasty piece of work. Rolan was particularly effective in this, personally chasing down and slowing down the hobgoblin that nearly made it to the spider’s cage.
(In all the players engaged and took down 5 Hobgoblin Soldiers, 6 hobgoblin grunts, and prevented the release of and thereby defeating a Deathjump Spider)
Treasure Found: 10gp, 27sp.
After securing the location, we called it for the night.