The goblin druid’s gear makes a nice addition to the party’s loot. Squall dons a ratty, lice infested cloak of feathers, which Helia assures her is imbued with protective magic. Wounded heroes chug healing potions and then walk out of the fort of brambles and approach the rickety wooden bridge to the island.
The bridge looks sketchy. Squall, the lightest, is sent ahead to investigate. She crosses the bridge without incident and finds that the flimsy structure is not due to poor construction alone. This is a clever defense mechanism. The bridge is secured to posts that are only partially buried, so that the weight of too many crossers would pull out the posts and drop the would be attackers in the water.
The heroes decide to cross one by one, using a rope secured to both banks to take some of their weight of the bridge. Four heroes cross without being noticed, but as Dharma prepares to bring in the rear, two goblin heads appear in the wall of the watch tower. They look around and spot the heroes hiding in the bushes below. Before they can raise the alarm, Kaielea hits one with a magic missile and Olga finishes it off with an acid dart and paralyzes the other one with divine magic. Helia then hits the frozen goblin with a shower of meteorites and quiet resumes.
Dharma joins the others and they decide to enter the fort by climbing to the guard tower. Olga knows a spell that makes a rope thrown into the tower tie itself to the stones and the heroes easily make it up. Moving ahead on the roof Squall can see a group of goblins and goblin dogs teasing a tied up seagull, on the other side of the building. The heroes make their way down a spiral staircase to an empty room. It opens up to a trophy room, decorated with horse heads and other skulls. Another door leads into a small bedroom. Several goblins are sleeping soundly, snuggled in buddy-bunk-beds. Kailea and Sqaull smile wickedly and step quietly into the room. They close the door behind them. A few seconds later they come back out, Squall licking her bloody owl talons and Kailea just grinning mysteriously.
The party continues to investigate. An unappetizing butchery of horse meat is a dead end. But another door leads to a short corridor, and at the end a closed door with sounds of battle coming from the other side. Olga open the door a crack and quietly peeks in. A reenactment of the raid on Sandpoint is taking place, with badly crafted illusions of the townspeople as targets. The noisy play prevents the goblins from noticing the group of very real longshanks charging into their midst until it’s too late. Kailea rushes in and cuts one down in one strike. Olga and Helia run in next and engage the goblin spellcaster controlling the illusionary Sandpointers. Then they notice the throne in the corner of the room. And the big goblin on the throne notices them. His giant gecko notices too, and runs along the wall to attack Helia.
Dharma kills the spellcasting goblin and his illusions dissipate, but there are still plenty of combatants in the room. Ripnugget chugs a potion and charges into the fray. He jumps on his trusty gecko and heads straight for Helia. The poor sorceress tries to defend herself but she is no match for Gecknugget. The fierce goblin hero leaves her dying in a pool of blood and directs his attention on Squall.
Olga and a badly wounded Dharma finish off the rest of the little goblins. And help Helia back to her feet with divine healing energy. Unfortunately, the burst of radiant healing energy also revives two of the dying goblins. Kaielea catches one with a magic missile but the other one escapes.
At the other corner of the room Kailea and Squall are facing Gecknugget. Olga tries to help by conjuring an extra-dimensional pit behind the goblin-iguana pair, but they avoid the pit, turn their backs on Kailea and focus on the druid. Squall goes down, and is revived by another divine energy burst. She tries to retreat from the ferocious enemy but Gecknugget is intent on finishing the job. Cowering behind Ripnugget’s throne Squall finds some potentially helpful potions, but is unable to use any before the goblin hero knocks her out again.
But Ripnugget’s passion is also his undoing. So focused on killing the druid, he lets Kailea Dharma and Olga close in on him. Kailea uses her whip to trip Ripnugget, and the others dispatch his mount and then jab and hammer at the prone goblin hero. Ripnugget fights desperately from the ground but eventually falls unconscious from his wounds.
Deciding that Ripnugget might be worth interogating, Olga stops his bleeding and the others tie him to his throne. They plan to question him when he comes to but they fail to account for the state of mind of their wounded druid. As soon as Squall is revived with healing magic, she lunges at the unconscious goblin and, before anyone can stop her, severs his neck with her owl claws and runs around the room with the goblin’s head in her hand.
Just then the sound of more goblins comes from outside the throne room. Squall kicks open the front door and throws the severed head of Ripnugget at a group of goblins and goblin dogs approaching from the trophy room. Some of the shaken goblins run away from the gruesome sight, and the rest are quickly dispatched by Dharma and Kailea. But Squall goes down again.
The annoyed heroes tend to the druid’s wounds but leave her unconscious, resting in a goblin bunk bed. They go on to explore the rest of the building. They find a pantry full of goblin delicacies, and two more sleeping goblins in a guard tower are taken care of. In a small chamber behind a door barred and nailed shut, they find the missing horse. Shadowmist is very agitated, but Dharma manages to calm him down by neighing diplomatically.
The wounded and exhausted heroes rest for the remainder of the day and night in Ripnugget’s personal chambers. They are not attacked but the night is not completely uneventful. Kailea and Squall are visited by strange dreams. Kailea dreams of INTRODUCE BARBARIAN LEVEL HERE.
Meanwhile, the gravely wounded Squall is moaning in her sleep. Her crazed rage earlier in the day, brought on by repeated critical blows in combat, seems to continue into the night as she claws at the air and lets out shrieks that wake others in their slumber… Squall dreams of the dark and restless underbelly of Sandpoint… She’s clawing her way through tunnels that twist in every direction and she’s terrified. All she wants is to see the night sky again; hear the familiar sounds of the forest. But instead she can only follow the old winding tunnels to a strange pool of liquid in a basin. She hates the liquid, even though she doesn’t understand why, and tries to kick over the basin in anger. Its too heavy to topple, but some liquid spills over the side. The pool it creates on the dim floor seems animated and slowing takes shape into some kind of form… it grows right in front of her, into some kind of humanoid… a woman… then Squall sees… HERSELF! She falls back in terror, and does not land… She is swimming in a sea of air as strange unknown script swirls around her. The script whispers mutterings in her ears and burns her eyes. Each time this happens she becomes more angry, and visions of her mother flash in her eyes. She does not understand the words being whispered but she FEELS them. And they make her feel… powerful.
The others experience a calmer night, but Helia visits the latrine for what seems like longer than necessary. In the morning, Olga inquires about this, and Helia explains that she suspects some weirdness in the layout of the shit chamber. Investigating the disgusting mystery, Olga finds two hidden door. The first leads to a small “treasure” room. The tribe’s wealth is stored in a big, trapped chest, that is opened by Ripnugget’s key. Behind the second door are stairs leading down.
The party tracks poo down the stairs and into a room with a big table full of charts and notes. This is the room where the attack on Sandpoint was planned. Shuffling through the notes they find references to a Whispering Beast.
They notice a flickering light under one of the doors leading out. Dharma open it, and a loud humming sound fills the room. Dharma’s sword vibrates wildly for a second but the Paladin manages to keep a firm hold on it. She runs in to face four identical women in robes, holding wands. The paladin hits one with her sword and it disappears. Kailea rushes in and hits one of the other women, who also disappears. Helia sends a magic missile to make a third one disappear. Her illusions gone, the dark female is now facing two angry fighters and a summoned viper in close quarters, and promptly surrenders.
In exchange for her freedom, the mysterious spellcaster spills the beans. She was hired by Nualia, who is trying to uncover some demon thing buried under the island. The archaeologist tells the heroes what to expect on this level, and shows them the stairs leading to the lower levels behind a hidden door in her office. Dharma escorts her out of the fort and the party sets out to find Brethasmos the bugbear.