So...this one became awkward.
Despite losing an hour of sleep, everyone arrived fairly early and was ready to go quickly.
Jeremy informed us via text that he wouldn't be able to play since his work schedule changed and Josh D. didn't show, though he said Sundays are tough for him.
Picking up right where we left off, and no sooner than Jaymes picked up the sword of Starkweather John, than a woman came running into the courtyard...hysterically screaming and begging Father Bronson to aid in looking for her two sons, which had been sent to collect berries for breakfast, but hadn't returned some hours later.
The PCs were quick to volunteer and the lady, desperate in her want to find her boys, accepted this and quickly led them to where she had told them to go. Fidious was quick to locate some tracks of adults leading into and out of the area, with scuffs from smaller feet and finally no smaller footprints. Guessing the boys had been carried, they made haste in following the tracks, which seemed to lead to the dried up gold mines on the outside of Bronce.
Once inside the mines, the PCs first encountered a humanoid cat of black fur who happened to share a patch of silvery blue fur that looked much like the birthmark of Viet and who had no recollection of how he came to this place. The PCs who had banded together already gave him a quick rundown of what they know/think they know about themselves and that they thought he was one of them, since the circumstances were similar. Still, a wary eye was kept on the newcomer til he proved himself by fighting alongside the others.
Moving further within the mines, the PCs navigated their ways deep into the caverns (actually avoiding some hazards by sheer luck of choice) and quickly dealing with what resistance they did encounter, which came in the form of a different band of hobgoblins that were later identified as the Talks-with-Fists tribe. The group also encountered a ghost, which seemed to want restful death and made no hostile motions toward the characters.
Coming upon an elevator mechanism, the PCs made the choice to keep 2 of their number (both fighters) up top to work the machine while the remaining 3 went below into the deeper chambers. Water was spilling over the side of the elevator shaft due to rain that had started as the PCs approached the mines and when the small group made it to the bottom, they found themselves in corridors filling with water.
An encounter with some hobgoblin sentries told the PCs that they were on the right path, and soon enough, they found themselves entering the living space of the small tribe. Taking stock of the situation, the group stood in horror when they saw only one of the boys and the other, younger one, in the arms of a hobgoblin with a blade stuck up to his throat. The hobgoblin chief demanded 2000gp from the people of Bronce after rebuking initial attempts at diplomacy made by the PCs, who then decided to act in hostility toward the tribe and try to incapacitate or kill the goblinoids before harm came to the child.
At the first sign of hostile intent, the hobgoblin chief rammed his sword through the throat of the boy, killing him instantly. This visibly affected my players. Each then had vested interest in seeing this vile creature suffer the same fate. Ya-ro cast Cause Fear, making him drop the child and run down the caverns, giving him an opportunity to flee the scene, while his cronies bought him time and engaged the PCs in a fight. They were dispatched fairly quickly.
Ya-ro and the cat man made haste in pursuit while Fidious and Jaymes (who had made his way down by climbing then falling a short way) stood guard over the noncombatant hobgoblins and debated the fate of said things...Fidious wanting them to die, Jaymes stating they were innocent by virtue of avoiding the fight.
The cat and Ya-ro came to a dead end, with the feline warrior (yes, I forgot his name, ok! I'll look in a minute) finding a small, water-filled passage and quickly risking himself by going alone to scout the area beyond, if he could make it....beyond he found a natural chamber with one lone occupant...the other missing boy! This one alive, but scared to his wit's end by seeing a giant walking/talking cat after being captive of the hobgoblins.
While this was happening, the hobgoblin chief made his move against Ya-ro after slipping out from a small passage where he had been hiding. The noises of metal clashing against metal brought Fidious running and after a few heated rounds of combat, Ya-ro crushed the hip of the baddie, ending his life.
Shortly after, when cat and child and all were making their way back to the elevator, water pressure against a back wall caused the wall to break, spilling some PCs out down the shaft and into a huge worked chamber. The PCs decided they would check this area out later and took stock of their surroundings, while gathering the corpse of the child (which sent the other kid off the deep end) and finding another body which had apparently been dead for a while with a badge of office showing him to be a tax collector from the main settlement on Chillhame.
The PCs gathered the corpses and made their way out of the area to tend to burials of the dead, etc.
Jaymes took the surviving hobgoblins to the Great Wolf (formerly Split-Ear) tribe, having decided that they would serve a somewhat better judge than embittered townsfolk who had just lost a child to the machinations of such creatures. There, he learned that one of the leaders he had appointed had been assassinated for going against the word of the agreement made between the tribe and the PCs and had tried to take power all for himself. Other than this, things were going as well as could be expected with an unsupervised tribe left to themselves.
After spending the night in Bronce...and facing the ire of some of the townsfolk because of the death of the child, the PCs set off to explore that last chamber they had found to greater extent. One villager and a mule were hired for the job of working the elevator for the PCs, but this was of no consequence, as after finding a scroll detailing plans of invasion on the surface by some underground force and huge, sealed stone doors carved to depict the same thing, they discovered a passage leading to the surface, in which a lone duergar warrior was hid and made a stand to try to prevent the PCs from escaping the tunnels.
The group had just made it to the end of the passage and had all rolled Spot checks when I called the session.
They'll learn what it is they saw or didn't see next week.
Oh, Josh D...if you read this, I plugged your game.
Next week: I wrap up Chapter 1, then Paul starts The Well of Despair! (which I've been in 7 times and died every single time. It's winsauce)