Faint praise damned Kildak before ever he took the stand. Few of Kildak’s friends offered staunch, unwavering support of his actions or would take responsibility for his future actions. Several offered to kill the dwarf if he should again transgress the town’s laws against murder while Harald was particularly damning of the warrior’s characters and conduct.
Kildak himself could offer little in the way of a cogent defence, instead blaming an early life of sorrow, hardship and betrayal.
It was no surprise, therefore, the court quickly pronounced Kildrak guilty. His fate: death by sawing to be carried out on the first day of the Galaer—roughly two weeks hence.
A glimmer of hope remained, though, for if the party could discover evidence of Kildak’s innocence—perhaps proving possession by witchcraft—the court’s sentence and judgement might be changed.
Alternatively, the court also suggested that if the party thwarted the goblin menace lurking to the west, they may look favourably upon their actions and grant some measure of lenience to the seemingly doomed dwarf. With this pronouncement, Kildak was led away—ranting—and after hanging about the castle for a short while the rest of the heroes returned to the Dwarf’s Folly.
Consoling themselves in the taproom several of the heroes lamented their companion’s fate and the harsh, seemingly capricious nature of his punishment. After all, he had only brutally murdered an innocent women—surely that didn’t require the death penalty? Others wholeheartedly agreed with the death penalty.
Hearing the conversation, a burly half-orc introduced himself and sat down to share the party’s sorrow. The half-orc’s name was Thonn and as luck would have it he was a warrior looking for a fight.
Over ales and conversation, it was decided: Thonn would join the party and the newly-replenished band would head out into the hills on the morrow.
The next day proved a perfect day for travel—sunny and warm, but not overly hot. The party made good progress and mid-afternoon saw them moving cautiously, but swiftly through the shadowed woods sprawled over the western hills. It was here they encountered a friend—the orog Gark. He was lurking in the hills and had happened to spot the party. Gark warned of dead men stalking the hills and of goblins and hobgoblins infesting the nearby ruin. He warned the party to beware of the white stones—for under them dwelt the dead men. In conversation with Gark, the party ascertained the white stones—which Bodrum thought might be gravestones—lay to the west of the monastery.
With this warning, the party continued on their way as Ozloc mused about the possibility of raising an orog army to counter the goblinoid threat.
Without further incident, the party reached the Bat Cave—as they called it—and settled in for the night; tomorrow they would head deeper into the hills to finally locate the Nameless Monastery.
Their night’s rest was mostly uneventful. However, on the third watch, Ozloc spied a small band of goblins creeping past the cave. Ozloc—blessed with preternaturally acute vision in the dark—spied the goblins long before his fellow watcher Thonn. Wisely the half-elf did not draw attention to the goblins (as he had not yet got the measure of the new warrior). The party’s luck held, however, and the goblins passed by the cave heading south without noticing the party’s tracks.
The next morning dawned fine and clear although to the north the sharp-eyed Saeldur spotted gathering clouds—could they be an omen of the days ahead? No matter, the heroes pushed deeper into the hills with the goal of reaching the hobgoblin encampment which they had attacked during their last foray. Reaching the camp—and observing it from well-concealed positions within the woods—the party quickly reached the conclusion that the camp was abandoned. However, caution won out, and they decided to circle to the north and look down on the encampment from a nearby wooded bluff.
They stealthily crept forth. Some of the party—skilled in moving through the trees—move as silently as a hunting owl. Others, wearing heavy armour, made considerably more noise…