|Gylthiel and her goblin guards, in happier times|
After reacquainting themselves with Elven wizard Galathil, and catching one another up on what they'd been up to, the party decided to continue tracking the orcs that had been involved with the slaving business.
Moving around the countryside, they eventually came upon a number of small hillocks that Flint recognized as barrows. Spotting a glyph but not being able to read the language, they decided that between the barrows seemed like a decent place to rest for the night. After Flint and Galathil waited through the first uneventful watch and had settled in for some rest, all of a sudden, Ezral Dawn shouted something about gnolls and the party woke up and started fighting.
The two sides seemed fairly equally matched, with a lot of swinging and missing on both sides, with Dyn-Bach and Flint seeming to find it difficult to shake off their slumber. Volodemir incapacitated a gnoll with laughter while Ezral was playing cat and mouse, firing and drawing another into a ranged battle. After several rounds of back and forth, during which Flint was repeatedly battered despite his shield of faith, the gnolls were dispatched and the party searched them, found nothing, and disappointedly went back to bed.
After researching the spell, Galathil cast comprehend languages and realized that the ancient rune warned of possible unrestful dead within. Flint suggested helpfully translating the warning to prevent less cautious souls from accidentally releasing something into the wilderness.
Back on the trail, they soon ran into a group of horsemen with large feathery standards. Drawing closer, the group identified themselves as knights of Fogelon, led by sergeant Sir Joseph. They were hunting a group of gnolls and were pleased to hear that the party had taken some out. The knights did not know where the orcs the party was tracking had gone, but wished them good luck. The two groups professed their appreciation for one another's missions and the knights told of their keep of the Falcon a week's ride to the west.
Picking up the trail again, the party came to a river, and the tracks continued North, downriver. Eventually, despite their quickened pace, they spotted a large gatehouse without being seen themselves. Deciding that reconnaissance was in order, and tired from the march, they rested until dark, then approached stealthily to give Ezral a chance to infiltrate and discover the defenses. Avoiding the bridge to the main gates, Ezral leapt the moat, scaled the wall and found himself atop the roof. He spotted 4 figures in the darkness looking out and some doors leading inside. Satisfied that he had found an alternate entrance, he returned to guide the party up the rope he had left hanging.
In a rare show of group stealth, the party managed to gain access to the roof without alerting any guards. What followed was a keenly organized and effective takedown of three groups of goblins who were serving as lookouts. First, Volodemir put 3 of 4 from the first group to sleep and Ezral killed the other with a single shot before the others hit the ground.
This was repeated on the second group of four to the south, with Dyn-Bach dealing a killing blow before the surprise was forfeited. Finally, the third group was taken out in similar fashion. With the roof secure, the party began peeping in some windows.
Entering the main hall, Flint peeked around the corner and found the room unoccupied. He opened the door to a room they were confident was unoccupied (via peeping) and had a bit of a rummage in the furs. He found a locked box that Ezral opened to reveal a great cache of platinum and gems. Impressed with their newfound wealth, they explored further, and heard some noise behind one door. Flint opened it to find 2 bugbears. Erzal plugged one straight through the heart, and the rest of the group attacked the second. Unfortunately, it was still able to call out to warn someone "Gylthiel! Intruders!" before he too was silenced forever.
Waiting inside the room, ready to ambush whoever came to answer the call, the least hardy of the party felt the sudden need for sleep. However, one by one, the elven waking sleep of Galathil, Ezral, and Dyn-Bach kept them from succumbing. Volodemir, however, passed out. Someone, presumably Gylthiel, ordered the remaining members of the party to come out. After waking Volodemir, Flint armed himself with some zombie powder in order to effectively render the potentially powerful magic user feeble minded. He walked out to find an attractive female elf who asked him what was going on. In response he turned her into a mindless maniac. She clobbered him and was taken out by Dyn-Bach. Finding her spellbook, the party pondered who they had just attacked, why, and what to do next.