It takes a short while for Grax to pray, but he eventually receives a response, or the impression of a response, telling them to follow the southern bank of the Lanarell River upstream on the morrow. This seems fairly straight forward, so they all determine to head to bed and to make an early start in the morning after seeing off Rag’azzahd. Having decided this, Nortrix reluctantly admits that Kysmer was correct in their bet, earlier, in which the elf had the dwarf that they would not be moving in to The Respected Poet that evening. Nortrix had been so sure of them moving that he had accepted this bet and now, as a result he went off to consume the remaining oysters (that had made Grax so ill) with Kysmer watching.
Just after Nortrix had left, Kara and Rag’azzahd entered to announce that the translation was completed. In the final entries the journal referred to the successful capture of the two groups of Imperial Northern Rangers and their imprisonment. Then, mention was made of the rescue of the captured Rangers, with the journal sounding quite angry and disbelieving of this. The journal referred then to the news of the Rangers rescue reaching the city, some days after which the rest of the city had become aware of the matter. It then mentions the return of the missing Rangers as though this was a personal failure by the author and some mention is made of needing to make amends. Lastly, the journal talks of the heroes who rescued the Rangers; apparently The Teacher has sent word that those responsible should be sought out and made to suffer.
The following morning Nortrix is now feeling quite ill from the oysters and any remaining shellfish are disposed of before they can lead to further illness. The healthy heroes, now including Grax, bid Rag’azzahd well as he set off to recover his horse before travelling to their prearranged meeting place (along the road up to Rannon’s Hill). He says he will wait upon word from them before moving on.
With the hobgoblin on his way the heroes then head to the river and investigate the river gate to see if they can begin following the bank. They quickly gather that there is no way out of the city via the river gate and so head to the Oldoak Gate to leave the city. A brief walk has them rejoining the river and they begin following the southern bank. Kysmer keeps an eye open for any tracks as they walk along, but finds no trace as they travel.
Having walked for several hours, Hoatzin’s sharp eyes caught sight of some goblins hidden in a copse of trees up ahead. He could tell they were watching the trail that the heroes had been following (a trail that ran parallel to the river), but weren’t watching in the direction that heroes as were approaching. In hushed voice he raised the alarm to his companions, who could not catch sight of the goblins despite Hoatzin’s assistance. As Grax decided to call out to the goblins (in their own language), Hoatzin decided to seize the element of surprise and loosed an arrow at the unsuspecting foes.
Despite catching them unawares, Hoatzin’s initial attack flew wide of the mark and soon a rain of arrows came flying back at the heroes, scoring some minor injuries on Hoatzin and Kysmer. While Kara and Kysmer (and shortly after Grax) immediately made for the tree line to seek cover, Hoatzin exchanged fire with the goblins. The battle was then made more intense by the unexpected appearance of a human warrior who was aiding the goblins, who was the very same man who had attacked Kara several days earlier on the street. Gradually Hoatzin and Kysmer were able to pick off the goblins with their ranged attacks and Kara was able to keep the warrior occupied long enough so that Grax and Hoatzin could arrive to help her fight him. Seeing his position as hopeless, the human warrior threw down his weapons after Grax’s call for surrender and with that the fight was over.
In the course of procuring some bow string to bind their prisoner, Hoatzin caught sight of a well crafted short now amongst the otherwise poor fare that the goblins had been using. This he gathered up for later inspection.
With the prisoner bound they were able to question him while Grax saw to the minor injuries that they had received. The warrior was fairly open about what he was doing there: he had been contacted again by the person who had hired him (and others) to kill the heroes and had been hired to assist these forest goblins in ambushing a returning group of rangers. He had no ideas of the identity of the person who had hired him, but did intimate that he knew how to contact them. He also mentioned that there was another group of ambushers laying in wait on the opposite side of the river somewhere, as they hadn’t known which side of the river the rangers would be using.
Without any further hesitation the heroes then continued on their way, keeping an eye out for signs of Selinda’s passing and keeping a steady blade to the prisoner’s back. It was after about another hour’s walking that they rounded a bend in the path and they saw, up ahead, Selinda step out of a copse of trees and wave to them. They had found her.
Upon joining up with the rangers, the heroes were lightly scolded by Selinda for searching for her. However she wasn’t too upset with them, since they had foiled the ambush and Grax was able to take care of the still seriously injured Rangers in her party (though the effort did tire him out). Within minutes they were back on the trail and headed once more towards Lanarell. When they got back to the area where the ambush had been set they did take some time to locate and search the goblin camp, recovering the warrior’s gear in the process. Amongst his possessions the warrior had two letters of contract, confirming that he was to kill Grax, Hoatzin, Kara and Kysmer (for a price of 200 gold each), as well as Selinda (for a price of 500 gold). The goblins had nothing else of any real value.
It took them several more hours to reach the safety of the city, so by the time they had arrived they knew what they were going to do. Selinda had mentioned that she did not feel that Zentoun Fortress would be safe for them, so they elected to take her and the surviving Rangers (and the prisoner) to the main guard garrison and Captain Karath. The guard on duty recognised the heroes as they walked in and they were able to arrange to see the Captain in short order, though Hoatzin elected to watch over the prisoner (who was placed in a private cell as well).
Captain Karath listened as they explained what had been going on. When he asked why they couldn’t go to Zentoun Fortress, Selinda brought out her bag of evidence: a sack filled with severed goblin ears and one human head. The human head, she explained, had belonged to a man aiding the goblins who had ambushed her squad; she had immediately recognised him as a serving man from the Zentoun Fortress kitchens. She surmised that this man had not been acting alone and had been receiving his instructions from someone else in the fortress, someone higher placed who wanted her dead. Captain Karath agreed that this was a possibility and also agreed to arrange for a safe (and secret) place for Selinda and her men to stay. When Kara asked where they would be, Captain Karath bluntly said that the fewer people who knew, the fewer people who could reveal the information (whether under interrogation or by magical mind probing). The heroes then reluctantly agreed with this reasoning and bid Selinda and the other Rangers a good evening.
Returning to the Alvenwoad Estate they found that Nortrix, despite being ill, had been arranging for everyone’s gear to be moved to The Respected Poet. All that was left for them to do was to say farewell and thank you to their host. Unfortunately Lady Alvenwoad herself was unavailable, being called away on some city business, but Eleanor was there to see them. She was quite surprised by their sudden decision to move (Nortrix had given her only an hour’s notice), but was pleased to hear that they wouldn’t be travelling far. Kara even arranged to meet with her on the following day so that they could further discuss these events.
When they asked Rolif if he would be accompanying them to The Respected Poet, the heroes were astonished at the change that had come over him. The lascivious dwarf was now dressed in fine silk clothing and sported an elegant black eyepatch (he was still missing an eye). He explained the change by saying that Lady Alvenwoad had recognised him and had insisted he wear something more appropriate. Eleanor then explained that Lord Garnetbeard was now a guest of Lady Alvenwoad and was free to stay until he was quite recovered. When the heroes asked about him being a noble, Rolif explained (while leering at Eleanor) that his brother is the Count of Riverston, though he had joined the Imperial Northern Rangers to get a little more excitement out of life.
With all of that explained, the heroes then retired to The Respected Poet for some well deserved rest. The food and lodgings of the inn were quite good, although nothing compared to what they had become accustomed to, and the evening passed without incident. Then, shortly after dawn on the next day, they were all roused by something quite unexpected.