After healing Ithas, the party considered their options. It was preferable to get back into town as soon as possible, to be able to take advantage of the state of disarray the Hatchets would find themselves in following Ithas’ attack on their compound.
The decision was made to get into town stealthily, but Ithas noted that all entrances to the town were being watched by the Hatchets, and that would be exceedingly difficult. Remembering that Jonkin often stops at the Old Mill when traveling between Kylamm and the Mine, the party thought that perhaps it would work to wait for him, or see if he can be met on the road, and pay him to hide them in his cargo.
Three days were spent at the Mill waiting. The first day was uneventful, as Gideon worked on crafting himself a bow and arrows (with arrowheads he had purchased from Corlyn), while Ahab and Ithas began stripping parts from other buildings to reinforce the barracks in which they sheltered.
On the second day, this activity continued, but Gideon spotted a single goblin creeping through the surrounding woods. They gave chase, but the goblin escaped. The third day, Jonkin arrived with his wagons, and the party discussed with him the prospects of getting into town. Ithas recognized on the wagons the same style of clay jug filled with moonshine that he had seen the Hatchets producing in their compound.
The party only became more suspicious when they found out he was of elven descent (in this world elves are hated by all humans, the product of a war fought thousands of years ago. Half elves are met with some disdain and certainly mistrust, but not general hatred, since even humans understand that they are generally the product of rape or descendant from the product of rape; half-elves are always outcasts, and like Jonkin, generally live alone).
Jonkin tells the party of two ways to get into the city, after Ithas and Ahab construct a suitable reason why stealth would be necessary. Jonkin tells them of a sewer drain on the south side of the city, which he had used once to escape what used to be the law decades earlier, before the merchants’ guild ever took control of the city. Also, he offers his wagons, stating that he keeps plenty of wool, rope, barrels etc that they could hide among and he could get them into the city. This will cost them 5 silver a piece. The party decides to use the sewer grate, after getting more information out of him.
Ahab and Gideon press him on his relationship with the Hatchets, and Jonkin delivers a believable story that they are simply business partners. He is unclear the nature of his relationship with them, whether it is just buying their goods or helping them smuggle, selling other stolen goods to them, etc. He makes it clear that there is no love lost between him and Banup’s crew, although he would regret the loss of a source of moonshine that he sells to the miners in the north.
Even with this mistrust, he delivered much valuable information. It is now clear that the goblin attacks must be orchestrated by some outside party. The adventurers came to the conclusion that either a) Jonkin is deceitful and it is actually he who orchestrates the goblin raids (given that he has suffered relatively few goblin attacks and always seems to come out ok from them) or b) it is a native member of the merchant’s guild who is orchestrating the attacks (given that the attacks 95% of the time are against Acrian money, benefiting the local merchants in increased trade, increased prices as well as the stolen money and goods). Jonkin also gave a little information about the goblins themselves. The most he has ever had conflict with was 5 or 6 at a time, the same numbers of the war parties the adventurers had met. However, from a distance he has seen up to 20 of them moving at once.
Jonkin peddles some of his other goods, and shares some of his alcohol in return for a meal of Ahab’s fish, and negotiates the right for him to continue using the Mill when he passes through (he promises to keep quiet about their activities and questions).
The trio decides to hunt goblins the next day. They return to the scene of the two previous battles east of the road in the forest, knowing that the encampment or at least some sort of base of operations must be nearby. Ithas hears something ahead as they fan out to search the woods, and calls for the others to stop as he creeps closer. At the top of a low hill, he peers down into a wide, yet shallow, washed-out rock gully. Hiding behind some trees, he counts a total of 6 small huts, and spots 15 goblins milling about, going about their daily activities.
The party tries to get Gideon with his new bow to cross the gully at a point far to the southeast (uphill from the huts by about 120 yards). The goblins note him as soon as he is out of the trees. They send a small war party towards him, thinking him alone. Ithas and Ahab start to more towards his position to assist.
Gideon strings his new bow, and fires a shot, killing the first of the 6-goblin war party. Undaunted, they continue. He draws again, and just before releasing the arrow, his bowstring snaps. Ithas and Ahab get into range, and begin hurling spears down onto the goblins from the hillside. Gideon pulls out his trusty sling, and kills another with a good shot.
Before getting to melee, there are only three goblins remaining, and Ahab and Ithas have gotten into position to assist Gideon. While the three are being dispatched, and the party goes about gathering together more spears, some of the leaders of the goblin encampment showed themselves. 3 more orcs were apparent, as well as a much larger creature (although the party cannot identify it, this is a bugbear), and what appears to be a goblin chief of some sort, wearing a large red head dress.
A group of fifteen more goblins were dispatched with an orc leading them, and started traveling southeast up the gully towards the adventurers. While making a new plan of action the party used missile weapons, and killed one goblin, wounding two more.
The party fled uphill back west towards the road. The goblins gave chase. Once out of the gully and into the woods, the party began using missile weapons again, Gideon’s sling and the combined spears of Ithas and Ahab. Together they winnowed the goblin formation to a much more manageable number. Ahab cast “entangle” on their formation once they were nearing melee range, trapping about four of them permanently, two of them getting free instantly, and two more goblins plus the orc leader being able to struggle out of it by the next round.
Gideon killed one of the loose goblins immediately with his quarterstaff. Ithas fended off attacks with his dagger but failed to score a hit (he had apparently used up all of his luck launching long-distance spears to skewer goblins more than 50 yards away).
The next wave of three monsters freed themselves from the entangle spell and charged, joining their one surviving companion. Ahab was stabbed through the shoulder with a crude spear, wounded severely, Ithas stepped up to push him out of harm’s way. Gideon crushed the windpipe of the orc leader, dropping him instantly, and Ithas skewered a goblin with his remaining spear. Ahab healed his wound using his last remaining spell, and stepped back up with his shillelagh, killing another goblin. At the end of the melee, there was only one goblin remaining, and as he turned to flee, Ahab tripped up his legs with his shillelagh and the others fell upon the beast killing him.
Ithas and Ahab crept around the entangled area to view the encampment a few hundred yards away. they saw two orcs forming lines of goblins to march into the woods, with the bugbear and the “chief” apparently giving orders. The two orcs and lines of goblins began to move up the hill towards them, and the three decided it was time to leave.
They killed all but one of the goblins left in the entangled area, and fled back towards the road. Gideon called to the other two to divert into the woods, and they laid low for a few moments, discussing a plan: they would allow this large party to pass, then attack what is left in the goblin encampment. Ithas crept back to their original trail after they discussed warning calls and scrambled up a tree to watch for the war party, and Ahab began to pray to regain his spells. After a while, Ithas called back with a soft bird call saying that all was well. He came back to Ahab and Gideon after a moment, and reported that the group, numbering in the low twenties, was moving towards the mill. If they plan on going that far, they will have another two hours to march and then three hours back before they return.
Ahab finished regaining his spells, Gideon re-tied his broken bowstring, and the trio set out to attack the goblin encampment.