In their weakened, hungry and downright filthy state, the members of the Company headed for Fallenrock. By custom, folk in the little town had traded supplies to the Iron Star in exchange for the mercenaries’ protection. Their destination was not very far away, and they reached the town easily before nightfall, breathing sighs of relief that it was not burned as well.
Along the way, the companions noted (with differing levels of enthusiasm) that the wolf from the attack on the Citadel was following at a distance. Indeed, Filbert Quickfoot had been feeding the starved creature, and on the occasion of it’s continued lurking, Whot took it upon himself to approach it. Now, the dwarf had some skill working with beasts, and softened by the halfling’s gifts of food, the wolf proved to be surprisingly non-hostile. Whot was able to convince the creature to keep outside of Fallenrock, and with luck, to await the Company’s return.
The party entered the town and made for the Dancing Dryad, a public house and inn with a friendly proprietor and clientele. Hot baths were taken, good food restored their strength, and the house ale restored some measure of good spirits. Tristem Tsara chose the moment to tell the townfolk the Tale of the Ruined Citadel, but to assure them that the Order of the Iron Star would survive the devastating attack.
Their plan was to travel beyond the town to the Iron Star Outpost, in the hope that mercenaries still stationed there could help them to rebuild the Order. This course was made all the more urgent when they met the wife of a man stationed at the Outpost. She begged the party to make haste, as she feared for her husband’s life. It was decided that they would set out at dawn on riding horses loaned by the concerned townfolk.
By mid-day, the Company arrived at the Outpost. It was really an rather unobtrusive site, as the Order had utilized existing tunnels cut into a low hill for their cache/bunker. All was clearly not well from the beginning, as no guard was set, and the door into the hill was not even locked. Lady Jenaga’s fine hearing made clear the apparent invader’s careless snoring from inside.
Filbert and Jenaga crept into the dark hall, but a misstep betrayed them. The miserable goblin scavengers, who had been sleeping within, arose screeching and leapt to attack brandishing jagged knives. Now past the time for subtlety, the Company surged forward and made short work of the invaders, leaving a single foe alive for questioning.
To the surprise of most, Tristem the scholar spoke the shrieking prisoner’s language and began to interrogate it. Renuk the half-orc, who knew the goblin’s language all too well, punctuated Tristem’s questions with threats of finger and limb removal. The terrified creature informed them that the goblins had stumbled onto the Outpost already abandoned, and that they had helped themselves to the unguarded food and wine, consuming it all, and passing out before they could raid the rest of the hill.
Tyr was already lighting candles and searching the sleeping chambers off of the main hall. He found nothing left,… no supplies and no sign of the Order members who had been stationed there. He did however find a single unopened trunk. As it appeared to be locked, those in the party skilled at opening things without the need of proper key were called for.
Upon their arrival, a most unexpected thing happened. The trunk began to shudder, then bounce violently up and down, and even open and snap shut it’s hinged lid like a set of wooden jaws. Naturally, the party quickly decided to smash it to kindling, but it proved quite resistant to their attacks. After much frustration, a lucky blow finally smashed off the trunks hinges and the whole thing collapsed and didn’t move again. Clearly, sorcery was at work, and the Company proceeded with more caution from here on.
Continuing to explore the last halls of the Outpost with their goblin prisoner in tow, the party did indeed encounter more evidence of magical goings on, in the form of more animate objects. This time, it was in the armoury itself, and the objects were deadly weapons! A battle was joined, and despite inflicting many small wounds, the magic guiding the weapons did not match the skill of the Company. The swords and axes were smote to the ground and drained of their spectral power.
Upon leaving the tunnels, having fully explored them, the party was forced to admit finding no sign at all of members of the Order. They were a few coins richer, but now bore the added concern that sorcery was somehow involved in their fellows disappearance. The goblin prisoner, named Skyzx, was given his freedom under the threat of instant death if he was ever seen near a site belonging to the Order of the Iron Star.
With much to consider and plans to make, they rode home to Fallenrock…