Over the course of our adventures, we seem to have built a working relationship with some of the goblin clans, in particular the Blackfoot and Broken Axe clans. Much of this nigh-positive relationship is predicated upon our mutual distaste for hobgoblins, so when we discovered that hobgoblins had settled into Hightower and were building a war camp— mere hours from Aiwan by horse I might add— we were both dismayed by the proximity and encouraged to action by the prospect of strengthening our burgeoning but tenuous alliance. We agreed: the hobgoblins at Hightower would have to be removed.
We— Ducky, Rost, Oz, Jorri, and myself, Jorven— set off from Aiwan in the early morning and arrived at Hightower by midday.
Upon our arrival, we discovered that much had changed since our last trek to the tor. Two foul ogres stood sentry outside the entrance, and archers hid in waiting as well. Oz and Rost attempted to draw the ogres out of range of the archers, but surprisingly, they did not fall for the trick. Once we regrouped and mounted a combined attack upon them, however, they fell quickly. Jorri learned a lesson about getting within arms’ reach of an ogre, though. I suspect that such a blow to my skull would have left me unconscious.
Upon our success, we passed the barricades, opened the tall doors to the main entrance, and peered inside, ready for battle. We did not have to peer long, however, for no fewer than a baker’s dozen of hobgoblins, grouped and prepared to fight, raised their foul war-cry as the doors creaked open.
Rost gave a chortle— a very paladin thing to do, if you ask me, not that anyone does— and hurled the last bead from his Necklace of Fireballs into a cluster of hobgoblins. In an eruption of flame, half the creatures were instantly dispatched. We fell upon the remainder with justifiable aplomb, and quickly finished, by way of fist, sword, crossbow, and spell, what Rost had so exuberantly begun.
Upon inspection of the room, it was clear that the hobgoblins had, as had been suspected, been building their supplies and forces. Sacks and crates overflowing with rations were strewn against the walls— most certainly a recipe for a rat infestation, I might add. In hindsight, we may well have pried information about their noxious war-plans from one of their number, but I digress into merest speculation.
We ventured further into the familiar but newly hobgoblin-inhabited halls of Hightower. I’m not sure how Oz quieted the clanking of his rather vast collection of weaponry, but he scouted our way with unsettling noiselessness. The next creatures to fall before our assault was a group of wargs; despite their ferocity they stood no chance against us, however.
We discovered another group of hobgoblins in a large, domed hall. One amongst their number was more well-armored and generally tougher-looking than the others. As Oz had scouted the way, we tried to leverage our foreknowledge of their forces and trick them into exposing themselves. When insults did not goad them into rash action, Ducky and myself borrowed some of Oz’s spare axes and cast Mage Hand to float them (quite eerily, it may be added) into the room, hoping the hobgoblins were superstitious and would believe them to be wielded by ancient spirits, or perhaps by powerful but slow invisible warriors. Sadly, they were not as gullible as we had believed! Only one hobgoblin threw his javelin at the “invisible threat,” and he was immediately reprimanded by their leader.
Finally, Oz forced the hobgoblins to expend some javelins by exposing his rump to them. Upon this, we burst ruefully into the hall, Rost, Oz and Jorri forming a wall of steel and muscle, Ducky attacking from above, traversing the ceiling in his spidersilk slippers. I loosed Cracker II from the magical plane, and despite the bite of their multitude of javelins, we dispatched most of the hobgoblins within moments. However, their battle-scarred, heavily armored leader quickly caught the drift of the battle and began climbing a rope up to a hole in the center of the domed ceiling, clearly intending to flee and thus live to fight another day. Oz pursued, ascending rapidly behind him (unbecoming for a dwarf, the most dignified and gravitas-filled of the races, I know, but I suppose it was not entirely unjustified, given his fraught history with hobgoblin leaders).
None of us, though, expected a Drop Gnome.
Unnoticed by the rest of us, Ducky had sprinted up the inside of the dome in his spidersilk slippers, and grabbed onto the hobgoblin’s ankles as he tried to disappear up the hole. With a victorious cry, Ducky wrenched the creature back into the room, and once his grip had been lost, gravity came to our aid and brought him crashing to the ground. Jorri, Rost, and Oz crushed him quickly. We discovered no dearth of high-quality, masterwork items upon the body.
Finally, we battled one more group of hobgoblins, as well as an ambushing warg. Fortunately, as we were deep within Hightower, there was no easy escape route for wounded foes. These fought fiercely, but before too long lay slain like the others. This seemed to be a makeshift vault, and we found a plethora of gold and treasure.
Having secured the tor— and quite a bit of money— we departed for Aiwan. As we made the trek homewards, I found myself hoping the hobgoblins would learn their lesson and not venture so far to the south. Or at least that if they returned that they would bring more gold with them.