On July 21st, Year 4, the first unwilling arrival in the Vale passes through the portal in the Temple of Enoch to Citadel. Calling himself only “Q,” he is taken to the Citadel House where Lonir removes his handcuffs and charges some adventurers there with keeping an eye on him. They are:
- Randal (HuS): Level 3 Human Druid
- Osiris (CoB): Level 3 Elf Magic-user
- Rowan (MiM): Level 2 Elf Magic-user
- Drucillia (BrS): Level 2 Elf Fighter
- Q (TrS): Level 1 Human Thief
The party considers a trip to the kobold outpost to relieve the adventurers garrisoned there and destroy it, but Osiris is thirsty for blood after missing out on the Luath Draoidh siege and pushes the others to go after the garrison Sylvania found out about a day’s journey up the Great Road from the crossing. Expecting some kind of castle, they raid the Ar-a-mach sabotage chest of its explosives and bring the rest of the fire starting powder to Jared to make two more larger bombs.
Tuesday morning, the 22nd, they set out with 6 days of food each. The path to the great road is starting to be well travelled and they reach it without incident. The morning of the 24th. Randall goes ahead to check the road and sees an orc patrol coming up it. They let them pass and then follow behind, hoping not to catch them. Around 9, they see the orcs camped on the road ahead. Despite the cliffs on either side, they manage to pass seemingly unnoticed by crossing to far side of the quarter mile wide road.
Continuing up the road, expecting a garrison near evening, Randall spots one of the orcs coming out of a canyon around noon. They continue without confronting it and approaching 5 they come upon a slot canyon opening onto the North side of the road and decide it must lead to the Kobold garrison. Inside the canyon, they climb fairly steeply, following the river, but not nearly as steeply as the walls of the canyon climb. The sun is completely obscured, though the sky is only beginning to darken. Around 6, they decide to make camp rather than push forward in the early dark of the canyon.
While the others make a camp in the trees off the wood, Randall becomes a falcon and flies out of the canyon to explore the area. He immediately becomes aware of a large, low valley at the top of the canyon and flies over to see a lake and mostly defunct village with overgrown farmland filling most of the valley. At the top of the valley, a massive sculpture of an armored dwarf (two thousand feet tall) is carved into the cliff face. Beyond it, on the mountain slope that runs up from its shoulders, are seven more dwarf head sculptures of the same size, the forward most also displaying shoulders. Randall spots a tendril of smoke rising up from the furthest near the peak of the mountain.
In the valley, Randall finds kobolds and lizardfolk occupying the village (whose buildings are clearly very old and resemble dwarven construction) and guarding two bridges crossing the river on the approach to it. From there, he flies to the far head and circles around it, observing that the smoke comes from chimneys on the back right side of the head, that there are arrow slits along the back of the head overlooking the doorway at the back of the base, that the right eye is an opaque, blue, crystalline material and the left eye stone with a red pupil.
After flying around it, he lands before the door and becomes a human again, to which arrows answer, wounding him before he can transform back and fly away. Now with limited time on his flight, he makes his way toward their camp but above the valley feels himself running out of time in falcon form. He dives, landing beside the river with moments to spare. Using his orangutan form, he lures the guards away from the bridge down river and escapes back to camp without exposing himself. There, they heal him and settle down to sleep.
The night passes uneventfully and in the morning, Friday the 25th, they plan an approach to the garrison. With Randall flying ahead to get behind the Kobolds on the bridge, Q works his way up the trail unseen. When Randall sees him waiting near the bridge, he emerges in orangutan form and attempts to draw them in with curiosity (and a “cuteness check”), succeeding this time! Before the three Kobolds become aware of him, Q downs two with well placed stabs. The last one fights back surprisingly well with Q missing his attacks, but goes down. Randall and Q wait for the others to join them at the bridge now that it is cleared.
They continue up the path until they reach the edge of the dense foliage, where they stop for fear of kobold lookouts seeing them out in the open. Q accepts the assignment to scout the village out and manages to sneak into it. The bridge to the bulk of the village poses more of a problem, but Q manages to approach it unseen and shimmy across hanging over the edge (a series of very tense climb checks). In the village proper, he learns that most of the buildings are unoccupied (except by lookouts), but that 4 two-story buildings near the center of the village appear to be in use for quartering troops. The largest building seems to be a command center and mess hall. In one of the others he counts 12 sleeping mats in each floor, but the noise from his climb to the upper window attracts enough attention that he decides to withdraw, assuming the other two buildings are similarly used.
After another stressful bridge crossing, Q rejoins the others and informs them of what he observed. They accept his numbers and calculate 70-80 hostiles in the garrison. Though they lament that it isn’t the castle they expected when packing in all their explosives, they decide to give Randall the two larger bombs created by Jared so he can fly them in and detonate them. After getting a closer look at the kitchens, he decides the more populous bunk buildings are better targets and throws a lit bomb into each of them before transforming back into falcon form and returning to the others.
Something is clearly wrong when he hears no explosions along the way. The bombs had only 10-second fuses and they realize the Kobolds have disarmed them (through remarkable Understand Artifact checks in each building). Randall flies over the village to see what conditions are and finds they are searching for him. He returns and instructs Osiris and Rowan to recharge arrows (10 between them) with death blasts so he can drop them on the Kobold search parties.
In falcon form he can carry and drop two per trip and his first attack run goes well, nearly wiping out two of the larger patrols (5 members). Unbeknownst to him, the survivors marked the falcon as the delivery mechanism and while he goes back for more arrows some of the patrols join forces to ambush him on his return. When Randall returns, his first pass is successful, but his second arrow drop is met with a volley of arrows, one of which hits and breaks his falcon form.
As he returns to human form, Randall crashes onto a rooftop. The kobolds quickly surround the building looking for him and he takes orangutan form to push them off as they start to climb up to the roof. He soon realizes there are too many of them and climbs down, fleeing into the village. Again in human form, he uses his magical boots to get a good running start and leaps the river, making for the woods but not toward his friends.
The first wave of Kobolds to chase him out of the village, about a dozen, follow the path right toward the rest of the party. Rowan meets them with an encharged arrow that forces them to fan out and Osiris and Drucillia also take shots until they draw close and Drucillia and Q engage them. Randall, seeing them move toward his friends, also joins the front line. The enemy is quickly cut down with two of their archers escaping to warn the next wave to fall back to the village.
With their numbers and capabilities now known to the enemy, the garrison prepared against attack, their two largest bombs captured, Osiris and Rowan nearly out of spell points, and Randall’s falcon form out of commission for a few days, they look closely at their options for continuing the assault until Randall sees a couple of Kobolds sneaking out along the river toward the canyon exit. While the rest of them hold the road, Q pursues the escaping Kobolds, but they hear him coming and lay an ambush, one getting a sneak strike and the other a good shot. Badly wounded, Q is forced to retreat to the party where they heal him, but the kobolds already have too much of a start to try to catch them again.
With Q now exhausted from repeated woundings and healings, their resources are really looking shy of the task ahead of them (BrS and CoB had also left the table, so Drucillia and Osiris had adopted the default position of “let’s go home”). So, they start toward home, making camp at the mouth of the slot canyon before continuing on down the Great Road the 26th, meeting the orc patrol and learning that they knew of the kobold garrison at Ker Vedno, but were here only to make sure no new garrisons had been formed further west along the Great Road. They are impressed that the party attacked the Kobolds there.
By evening, they make camp just off the Great Road near the East Confluence River and on the 27th make it to the prison despite a thunderstorm spooking them to divert toward shelter. On the 28th, another thunderstorm catches them between Iron Fields and Confluence, but they proceed on knowing it will be short-lasting. They arrive in Citadel the evening of Monday the 28th and report the forces observed.