Just over a week since their encounter with the kruthiks lairing within a field of wandergrass, the party Sees a group of individuals approaching from the southwest, a ragtag band of mixed genders and races. There are 12 in all, but only three are mounted, the rest traveling on foot. A human on horseback calls out how surprising it is to come acroos others in the expanse of the Great Plains. The two groups stop and talk, and the players learn that this band is headed for Irongate, having heard that they are looking to employ men and women for a force of arms. The PCs confirm this, stating their own Irongate roots, and the human presses them for any information they can provide.
The PCs are told in turn that this group has recently come from the community of Mulhk, though few of them hail from their originally. They had been crossing the plains for about two months, as evidenced by their scant provisions on their pack horses, and haven’t seen much but endless seas of grass.
The mounted human extends a hand to Kyden in parting, and tries to pull the hin from his pony in an unanticipated move. Kyden manages to slip his hand free and maintain his balance, and combat was joined between the two groups. Several of the members of the attacking force fell easily, but combat with others was more difficult, and all the while four archers fired arrows into the fray. An enemy wizard focused his attacks on Elhara and Vindurinn, the rear line combatants, and was soon felled for his efforts. The two humans who had been mounted also eventually fell, but a nossul warrior proved exceedingly tough, inflicting a bad wound upon the ranger, Lucan, and dropping Kesriel with a particularly brutal attack. Kyden approached the nossul from behind and, with combat advantage, killed the warrior with his attack. Two of the archers tried to mount the horses and flee, but all were killed by the party. The PCs searched the bodies and found a surprising amount of gold and gems, leading them to believe that these individuals made coin by whatever means necessary.
After another three weeks of travel, they encountered a group of seven creatures with the bodies of horses and the upper torsos of men. There were four adults and three juveniles, and all but the youngest carried either saddlebags or parcels secured to their backs. Three of the centaurs broke off and rode toward the PCs, declaring their peaceful intentions if the same were granted. The centaurs, it seemed, were also headed to the goblin trading caravan, not only to trade but for the games which had recently become an annual tradition. The two parties joined up and traveled together for over a day before sighting the motionless caravan.
The caravan was stopped and tables had been set up by the goblins, as well as by the few non-goblins who traveled in their company. Several members of the party wound their way among the tables, looking at the wares displayed upon them. There was quite a wide selection of goods, from weapons to ceramic teasets, and it was a matter of speculation how the goblins came by these goods. Among the eclectic collection, Kyden and Lucan saw a holy symbol of Erathis, which had been worn by the cleric of their original, ill-fated group, as well as items belonging to other members. It was all Lucan could do to master his anger.
That first night, the group camped in close proximity to the centaurs they had traveled with. The hin rogue used the cover of darkness to attempt to look under the skirt of the largest vehicle, where it was said that any prisoners would be found. He successfully used his small stature and the high grass to get next to the immense wagon, and indeed did see nearly two dozen captives chained to the frame of the vehicle, and being watched by four hobgoblin guards. With this information, he attempted to leave the area, but was spotted by a hobgoblin patrolling the vicinity. With relative ease, Kyden managed to elude the guard and make his way back to camp, where he informed the others of what he had seen.
Several options were floated for freeing the slaves, with Lucan bent on freeing them all, not just those they had come for. It was pointed out that such a large-scale endeavor was beyond the group’s capability, and that such an act would have to wait. Ultimately, it was decided that Elhara, being the most diplomatic, should speak to the goblin trading boss to purchase the Byrnehold citizens back from the caravan.
The following day, the priestess approached the trading boss, and attempted to bring up the purchase of items not currently on display. The goblin spread his arms in an all-encompassing gesture and said “All is for sale!” Elhara delicately suggested the desire to purchase individuals, and the trade boss grabbed the nearest goblin and asked, “How much you pay?” It was then that Elhara admitted that she knew of the prisoners beneath the wagon, and her desire to purchase several of them. The goblin nodded, and headed toward the skirt of the vehicle, rapping his staff against the frame to alert the hobgoblins of his arrival. He pulled the cloth aside and admitted the priestess, who winced in revulsion at the stench.
The were many captives of many races, but Elhara recognized two faces that the dopplegangers had duplicated back in Byrnehold. She approached them and asked which of the others was the apothecary, husband to Treva. They pointed out the individual, and Elhara told the goblin trade boss that she wished to purchase these three. Negotiations followed and a price was settled upon. As the prisoners were being released, pleas of desperation and anquish came from the other captives, who implored the priestess to free them as well. Their cries were heartbreaking, yet she could only purchase the freedom of four others. With the seven newly freed individuals, she left the area beneath the large wagon, the cries of those left behind following her.
Elhara attempted to nurse her charges back to some semblance of health, while a few of the other party members participated in the games held by the numerous centaur tribes who had gathered. Soon, they purchased a wagon and made the journey back to Byrnehold, where the missing were greeted by their fellow citizens and the party was recognized as heroes. The following day, a public ceremony was held, with Lord Byrne expressing the gratitude of the entire community and honoring the PCs. The funds used to buy the slaves were reimbursed, and as a boon, Lord Byrne gave the party the name of a sage, Keltos, who resided in Bale’s Retreat, as well as a letter of introduction. Keltos was knowledgable in the field of ancient civilizations and ruins, and could perhaps be of assistance in the PC’s original mission.