After a few days, the group came to the village of Adgrove. Immediately upon pulling up, a group of woodsmen approached the party. Some goblins had been spotted in the area, and the woodsmen wanted to offer a contract to go an ensure the village was safe from any goblinoid menace. After confirming with Robért that the caravan would be stopping for a day or so, they told the woodsmen they’d be able to help out.
The woodsmen told the party that the shepherd Jake had a run-in with some goblins, and maybe he’d have some information about their location. Jake was now over in the tavern, trying to sooth his nerves after his encounter. Deciding that more information is better, the party headed to the tavern to talk to Jake.
Entering into the tavern, they found Jake sitting at the bar. Cradling his drink in two hands, Jake was definitely worse for wear. Taking point, Magnus sat down next to Jake. Jake began to say something, but upon seeing the large half-orc lost his words. Ordering a beer for himself and Jake, Magnus began to ask Jake some questions about what had happened. Seeing that Magnus was a guild member, he began to open up. Obviously very shaken by what happened, he was still able to give a good account of what had happened.
Early that morning, he had been chasing after a sheep that had been separated from the flock. Following it through some bushes, he was surprised to find three goblins and his sheep. In a sudden fright, he grabbed his sheep, knocked some goblin heads with his walking staff and then ran as fast as he could. He wasn’t sure if he did any damage, but his sheep was safe. He quickly gathered up the flock and headed back to town — a task made harder after the adrenaline left his system.
Upon leaving the tavern, the woodsmen approached with a contract. The Vanguard was to find out if there were any goblins, and ensure that they posed no threat to the village. Conferring with the woodsmen, the party figured the best plan would be to go to where the woodsmen saw the goblins and the ranger would track them from there.
After an hour and a half, their guide brought them to where the goblins had been sighted. Taking the lead, Gelenath was quickly able to find signs of the goblins and began leading the party through the woods. Shortly, they came upon some game trails that were obviously being used by the goblins to travel through the forest.
A short while later, they came out of the forest into a small clearing. On the opposite side of the clearing a small cliff rose up before them. Splitting the cliff in two a giant crack exposed some underground tunnel, apparently leading underground. Sitting to the left of the tunnel entrance was a crudely built wagon, with crude iron bars forming a simple prisoner cart. Taking a look at the tracks, Gelenath informed the party that this cart had been pulled here by bugbears.
Telling the party to wait, she headed into the cave to scout ahead. After a short curving passage the tunnel opened up into a cave. Within were a number of hobgoblins, bugbears and wolves — along with some goblins that had been tied up and thrown to the side of the cavern. Opposite the tunnel, a passage further into this cave system was blocked by some black scintillating field. These creatures looked different from the ones Gelenath had encountered in the past. Their fur was matted, and patches had fallen out. Their voices had a dark timbre, and they spit often — apparently trying to clear their throats of some kind of foul substance.
Gelenath headed back to the party with this information, and they quickly decided that surprise was their ally. Rushing into the cave, they caught all the creatures off guard. Xander threw his torch into the cave so everyone could see better, and then rushed into battle with his fellow warriors. After a few hits, the Vanguard realized that something was very off about these creatures. None of the hobgoblins or bugbears had normal blood, instead they were bleeding some sort of black ichor.
After a few quick rounds of combat, the party dispatched the foul creatures. As soon as the last one fell, the shimmering barrier changed and became transparent. Immediately two things drew the attention of the Vanguard: the cave beyond was full of shacks, and standing behind a goblin shaman were at least fifty goblins.
The shaman had his hand raised, and held a staff in the other. Raising his staff, he called out to the party.
"Thank you for saving my people from the dark ones."
After picking their jaws up off the ground, they began to converse with the shaman. They learned that the hobgoblins and bugbears had been sent by "the dark one" to capture his people. The goblins were going to be taken back somewhere and "forced into darkest treachery". This tribe had been running from "an ancient betrayer" for the last year, and thought they had found a safe place. But the shaman knew that they were too close to the human village, and now that they had been found by the dark one’s minions they’d have to move on.
Turning back to their defeated hobgoblins & bugbears, the Vanguard discovered one last surprise. The bodies of the dead had dissolved, leaving behind black bones that looked like obsidian.
Turning back to the shaman, they got his word that he and his people simply wanted to be left alone. He promised that he just wanted a quiet life for his people, away from those who would kill them without thinking.
Heading back to town, the party decided to tell the townsfolk that the problem was taken care of and they had nothing to worry about.
Upon getting back to town they got paid by the woodsmen and headed back to their caravan. There, they found Robért talking to a tall Goliath with a giant backpack. With a large smile, he introduced an old friend of his, Nebi! Nebi travelled the world, finding and selling magical artefacts. Over the course of the next half an hour, the party ended up buying several of Nebi’s goods. Magnus also wrestled Nebi for a discount, which he only won at the last second by tossing Nebi out of the circle.
The party went to bed, curious to see what else their adventure had in store for them.