The party didn't waste a second. Within a few minutes of being told, they raced out of the outpost and headed north to the ruins of Throtl. As they entered through the main gates, however, they discovered a force of Hobgoblins awaiting them.
|How about if you leave first?|
The Hobgoblins seemed quite anxious to get the party to leave. It smelled a lot like they were up to no good here, and they didn't want the party to find out about it. So, given no other choice, the party stood their ground and battled the Hobgoblins.
|Wil has a way of irritating the opposition.|
After the Hobgoblins and warriors at the gates had been dealt with, the party headed into the ruins. The place was a complete shambles. There was nothing left of the civilization that once thrived there, just a lot of mossy stone and tons of hungry rats.
Not knowing which way to go, the party decided to head east. They hadn't gone too far when they heard a noise up ahead and readied their weapons. Instead of angry Hobgoblins, though, they encountered a clearly distraught man who was babbling and carrying on as though he had lost his mind.
|Where is Caramon? That's a good question.|
The party tried to follow him, but somehow he eluded them completely.
But their pursuit did not amount to nothing. While trying to figure out where the crazy man went, they stumbled across a few Baaz Draconians talking to Hobgoblins and some more the human warriors. The draconians said something about a temple and some dragon eggs. The party tried to hear more about it, but the draconians must have heard them.
|The enemies prepare to attack.|
As the party continued to search the ruins, they found indications of battle. It looked as though Caramon had led his group through the area. Someone had dropped a shield with the symbol of the Solamnic Knights on it. There was blood on the ground. Clearly, Caramon had found trouble in Throtl.
The party decided to search the area around where the battle occurred. Maybe Caramon was still nearby. Unfortunately, what they found was not something friendly.
|Oh goody! Undead minions!|
There was a heap of steel pieces (the currency of Krynn) and two scrolls with the "Neutralize Poison" spell inscribed on them. Tamera, the party's main cleric, took those for safe keeping...hoping that they wouldn't be useful anytime soon.
After completely searching the area around where the battle occurred, the party realized that Caramon must no longer be in the area and headed off in another direction. Unfortunately, their searching brought them into the midst of a few Hobgoblins and a Hobgoblin leader.
|What do you mean, "More of them?"|
The party had no choice but to defend itself against such foul creatures. It would be the last time they would attempt to speak to them. It was clear that the Hobgoblins had completely thrown themselves into the plot with the draconians now. They would pay the ultimate price.
After the battle was over, the party headed off into the west area of the ruins. Unfortunately, a trap of some kind had been laid, and several members of the party were hit by arrows. The trap appeared to be recently set. Did someone know they were coming?
Before they could think much about it, a human soldier came out of nowhere and wanted to speak to the party. The party decided to hear him out. Here's what he had to say:
"I was with the party of knights and others under Caramon that came in here to explore. We haven't really found anything. Caramon's already left to report. I guess you must have missed him."
"Oh, one thing we did find out was that there is a treasure left over from the previous occupants of Throtl. We got word of it from a Hobgoblin who was sneaking in to claim it. Before he died, he told us that it was located in the south-central area of the city. Tell you what, if you help me find this treasure, I'll split it with you. All right?"
Something about the guy just didn't seem right. Besides, the party had better things to do than go off in search of treasure right now. Evil was afoot, and the sooner the party found Caramon and got him back to Sir Karl, the better.
The party refused the soldier's offer. Instead of taking it like a man, though, he shouted out for some Hobgoblins and attacked the party, thereby justifying the party's feeling that there was something off about this fellow.
The party wiped out the Hobgoblins as quickly as they could. The soldier turned out to be a little tougher than some of his other friends, though. Still, he was no match for the party's determination.
Once he was dealt with, the party took a minute to collect their thoughts. The enemy seemed to always be one step ahead of them. In fact, the enemy knew just what to tell them. Had the search for Caramon not been paramount, they might have easily fallen into the trap that the soldier had attempted to lay.
Eventually, the party continued on their way. They had a feeling that the soldier had been lying and that Caramon was still within Throtl somewhere. He had to be.
A noise caught their attention...
The party had stumbled across a kender who was busy setting traps. He introduced himself as Kildirf and claimed to know Caramon and that he was attempting to find him. He thought Caramon was somewhere south of where they currently were.
He said he had been setting traps to keep the Hobgoblins off his trail and he hoped that the party hadn't stumbled into any of them. There were a few grumbles from the back of the party where Janessa was still hurting over an arrow wound, but the party pretty much let it slide.
Kildirf offered to join the party and help them locate Caramon. He said he had another friend as well, a Solamnic Knight, who as also searching for Caramon.
As luck would have it, his friend appeared not a moment later. He claimed to be Larcent Strangbourn, a Solamnic Knight who had come with Caramon, but had become separated from him in the ruins of Throtl.
|Apparently all Solamnic Knights like big mustaches.|
Unlike the soldier who tried to trick the party, these two seemed to legitimately be concerned for Caramon. Not to mention that Strangbourn was dressed in the full plate armor of a Solamnic Knight, which lent a lot of credibility to his story. If he was lying, he was convincing.
With new friends in tow, the party continued their search for Caramon. As they walked, Strangbourn mentioned something odd about Sir Karl. He said:
"Listen, Sir Karl is the most honorable of men. I would follow him anywhere. But there is something very dark and strange going on around him. He seems obsessed with a young girl named Maya. The fact that he's about 40 years older than she is isn't really the problem, if they'd just settle down and declare themselves."
"Maya is extremely valuable to us. She has sources of information that are astounding, especially for one so young."
After that, he said no more about it. But, he seemed troubled by the whole thing.
Unfortunately, his troubles would need to wait. As the party rounded a corner, they were ambushed by combined forces of the enemy. They had been waiting for the party!
|Evil forces! Oh no!|
A long battle ensued. With the help of Kildirf and Strangbourn, though, the party managed to defeat the horde of Baaz Draconians, Hobgoblins, soldiers, mages and clerics that had waited to ambush them. Why were they so eager to stop the party? Were they getting close to something?
The party quickly had their answer. Through a locked door near where they were ambushed, they found Caramon Majere, hanging in chains. He had been taken prisoner by the enemy.
The party quickly released him from his chains. He said that he had been taken to a temple somewhere in Throtl and had seen draconians and dragon eggs. He also said that an evil priest somewhere in Throtl had a magical key that would make the secret doors to the temple appear.
He asked if the party would go in search of the key while he went back to check in with Sir Karl.
Suddenly, there was a lot of clamor outside the door! A loud whooshing noise followed by what sounded like tinkling glass echoed into the chamber, followed by the tormented screaming of Hobgoblins as they shrieked in fear.
Then...only silence...until a female voice called out...
|She's not a Hobgoblin.|
A woman rushed into the room. Caramon and Strangbourn seem to recognize her. She introduces herself as Maya.
So, this is the woman that Strangbourn had mentioned earlier? She speaks to Caramon:
"I've been sent by Sir Karl to get you back to the outpost. There are rumors that large forces of Draconians, Hobgoblins, Minotaurs and others are gathering. We need you to direct scouting and raiding operations. I see now that things are worse than we thought. Throtl was supposed to be abandoned."
Caramon tells her that he has seen Brass Dragon Eggs in the possession of the draconians. Maya gasps at this news.
He urges the party once again to find the key and locate the temple. The party, being good at heart, agrees to continue the fight.
Then, Caramon leaves, taking Maya, Strangbourn and Kildirf with him.
The party waits for them to leave, and then heads back out into the ruins. As they do, they notice that there is an odd amount of ice on the walls and that a few Hobgoblins have been frozen to death.
Next time: The party searches for the temple in Throtl!