Lockdown

FAVD Facility Map
Defending the facility

FAVD Facility and Environs

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Session 8
When you wish upon a star

Delban. Are you kidding me? According to the Revelations, “Delban might surprise the star-gazer with an impromptu flare”. And this alien sack of eyeballs hitched his cart to that sparkler? I’m not even sure it was Delban he was channeling. The green light made me think Gibbeth. If it was Gibbeth, that’d be something to worry about. I’ve always had a soft spot for Khirad myself, which “sometimes reveals secrets and gruesome insights.”

I’ve gotten ahead of myself though. I need to tell you about the children first. Screaming, wall- and ceiling-crawlers that acted like zombies while looking relatively uncorrupted, despite the possibility that they’d been here for centuries. We found the bodies first. In some area that they used as living quarters, they were all stretched out on their bunks in some kind of faery-story sleep. Essentially dead. But when we terminated the lockdown stuff started to wake up. Most of it supremely nasty. The kids were no different. The girl with the psychic-sonic scream seemed to be their leader, so I suggested focusing on her. Escher spent a lot of time healing up from the zombie smackdown. After the fight he looked so spent that Gaaki suggested we rest overnight. That leaves us with two days to find the dragon egg, based on what we know of the prophecy. While we rested I went through my spellbook and swapped in some new tools.

We found a holy book of Pelor in this room. It was well hidden in a locked box built into the wall. Some notes on various verses inside. Archaic references. It’s about the only sign of faith we’ve seen in this place. Of course, some of the things we’ve seen have made me reconsider the potential value of faith. I know some divine spellcasters that can do some useful stuff, but the auras permeating this place suggest they’d have to be able to do a lot more than bless me to make me safe. Nothing beats a good punch to the brain.

One of the journal scraps that we found mentions “Grue”. He was apparently one of the brighter “apprentices” here at the “Favd Facility”. In his room we found a picture, possibly taken in the observatory, of him and an older man. After all the confusion I’m going to have to sift through my memories carefully to see if the cranky old sot we later found in the observatory is the same man. The picture contains a calendar, and Escher was able to decipher a bit of their date-marking system. The picture is from their year, 226. One of the journal scraps is dated 229, and refers to the attack sometime in 227. Then there’s the journal entry from 398! That’s 171 years after the “attack”. Looking at the scraps, they could actually be written by the same person. Whatever star this guy sold out to, part of his pay was apparently a long life. After looking over his corpse, I’m not sure it was worth it. He’s got eyes in places people have no business looking.

I jumped ahead again. Sorry. I have to introduce you to Edward Lagar before we visit the observatory. Edward was trapped in the theater. Still is. Or rather, what’s left of him. Turns out Eddie tried to play his team for profit. Sold them out. Apparently to the “High Overseer of Facility Reet”. He got double-crossed and Reet got Favd’s research. Given the necrotic auras, animated corpses, and flesh-eating beetle swarms, I’d say Favd’s research is not the sort of thing we need more of in the world. Eddie says “enable the field and contain the artifact” so he’ll rest in peace. Makes me think the sparking we saw around Lord Ceross’s monolith may be some kind of containment field. Without it, the facility is permeated by the necrotic aura and corpses are animated. How the dragon gets mixed up in this, I’ve no idea, but I suspect that’s why ol’ Cloudchaser “delivered” the egg here. Fight the fire at the source and all that.

As soon as we read about the observatory, I wanted to go there. I’ve tried to hide my eagerness. When we finally get around to it we find the door has recently been torn out of the wall. And there is a crazy guy rifling through his notes inside. And he shouts at us to get out. When we don’t oblige, he starts throwing furniture at us. With his mind. Now that seems like a useful trick. Then he animates some orc corpses. Another good trick, but just necromantic. Not nearly as intriguing. We’re battling it out with orcs and dodging flying furniture when he sparks off a lattice of crystals arranged about the room. Focusing a beam of green light into a power source of some kind and bathing us in a really unpleasant aura. He says it is Delban’s light, but (like I said before) I think it’s really Gibbeth he’s gotten ahold of. He doesn’t seem interested in chatting about it. I try to hit him with a Sleep spell, but he shrugs it off like I’m a two-bit hypnotist. Bitch.

I figure out that taking the crystals out of the lattice might short circuit his aura. He gets really agitated about that. I’m still young enough that I enjoy annoying “adults”. And his “I’m a mighty entity” bit is getting on my nerves. Gaaki, Rage and especially Escher are beating on him, which gives me an opportunity to play with his toys. I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to get the crystal out of it’s container though. And, while I’m distracted by that, the situation is deteriorating. Our host has transformed himself into some eye-encrusted alien. I think I’ll call him “Blinky” from here on out. Blinky keeps reanimating the orcs (or what’s left of them after Gaaki and Rage get through.) I finally give up on the crystal. Escher steps in, and I try to get cover from the light, so I can hit Blinky with a punch to the brain.

Sir Daniel is rushing around making sure we still have the will to fight. He’s quite the cheer-leader. Gaaki hung a table over one of the crystals, which is pretty effective at shutting down part of the aura. Shadows, in this case, are our friends. I hop into a shadowy hideout that, based on the journal scraps, probably belonged to Blinky’s “companion”. Blinky is not happy about my choice of shelter. I figure anything that makes Blinky unhappy is good. I tell him, “my star is bigger than your star!” He says, “nuh-uh!” We’ve unloaded just about every trick we know on this guy. He’s returned the favor. Finally I get a phantom bolt into him that finishes him. As he’s expiring he assures us that Grue knows we’re coming.

Somewhere, perhaps beyond the partially-disassembled door to the dome room, there’s a dragon’s egg ready to hatch. And Grue. That name is oddly familiar to me. I remember a book, a history of some empire of sorts, that talked about grues.

“The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its favorite diet is adventurers, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its fear of light. No grue has ever been seen by the light of day, and few have survived its fearsome jaws to tell the tale.”

Joy.

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Journal Scraps
Bits of the mystery

Here’s what we’ve found so far: Seventh sample

Sixth sample

Fifth sample

First sample

Second sample

Third sample

Fourth sample

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Session 7
Lockdown

The archer’s name is Malad. He’s willing to cut us in on the payoff for getting the dragon’s eye to the Black Fist. We agree just to shut him up. Feegle jots down the details of the “agreement” in his journal. I wonder if that will come back to haunt us?

Malad leads us to the button room. The button room looks out over some kind of containment chamber for the tomb of one Lord Ceross, who was apparently an extremely powerful necromancer, and is now just extremely toxic waste. The bad vibe I’ve sensed throughout this complex is centered here. So is an opposing vibe I can’t quantify. I knew I should have paid more attention in wizard school.

Looking at the journal scraps we’ve collected (or that have been delivered to us by the mice), it looks like there is a connection between the five murals painted on the walls, and the icons on the nine buttons. Press the right buttons and you release the complex from lockdown. Press the wrong buttons and purple bolts of death fry you to powder. I hope we pressed the right ones. You’ll have to figure which those are by yourselves. I’m not doing this stuff free of charge.

A bunch of doors in the complex that were formerly hidden by massive steel plates have been revealed. We jump through the one that happens to be open, and Escher walks into a Gelatinous Cube. Imagine a huge see-through stomach sitting there in front of you. Now imagine seeing one of your friends being digested in it. Bad picture. Now add a lurking, but mobile pool of grey ooze. Finally throw a lizard-chicken into the mix. This particular lizard-chicken can turn you to stone. I close the door on the lizard-chicken. Too many variables. Gaaki and Escher are taking turns being digested, but they’re also doing a good job of ‘whacking the cube’. Hmmm. That could be a useful euphemism. Once the cube and the ooze are done, we listen at the door. It’s pretty quiet. That’s because statues are pretty quiet. We left Malad in the hallway (or he snuck off when he saw the cube!) and now he’s dead. Stone dead.

We can hear rumbling in the distance. We’ve guessed it’s the “beast” mentioned in one of the journal fragments. The “beast” is a pretty poor description for what we meet next. Take apart all your worst nightmare beasts and randomly glue the bits back together. Then stick a flaming barb up it’s ass. The only thing worse than the “beast” was that giant lizard that broke the patio in front of the temple and plunged us into the river to start this whole debacle. It grabs Gaaki. It beats Gaaki nearly senseless. Gaaki escapes. It tries to grab Escher. Sir Daniel heals Gaaki. Repeat for what seems like an hour. We finally drop the thing, and nearly drop ourselves from exhaustion. Somehow, unbelievable as it may seem, I don’t think this is the worst thing we’ll find down here. We have less than three days before the dragon is due to hatch. We need to be there when it does.

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Session 6
The Black Fist Returns

This is what was written on the wall in blood: “Their Minds Made Us Great, Their Flesh Makes Us Strong.” Following that cheerful piece of propaganda led us through the maze of crypt-chambers. We mostly avoided the beetle swarms.

Thus it was, pursued by insect hordes, we arrived at a chamber stocked with oil barrels placed atop a defensible ramp, and a band of mercenary thugs looking for a way through the maze. They were pretty surprised to see us coming out of the maze. Turns out these louts are from the Black Fist, that band of thieves that bought Portly Pete’s recipe for absolutely nothing. They were here to collect ingredients. Fortunately the recipe only called for one spellcaster’s ear (that I know of). Unfortunately, it called for the eye of a silver dragon. Somehow they were tipped off that the baby silver would be somewhere in the temple complex. Joy. Oh well, it gave the rest of the party an excuse to kill them. I just wanted to cut off their ears.

After the Fists ignite the oil and pour it down the ramp at us (both to screw us over, and defend against the chittering horde of beetles that was fast approaching), we work really hard to kill them. One of ‘em is a spellcaster (and therefore dangerous.) The others are just meat. I’m so pissed off at Fists that I sacrifice my favorite coat to cross the flaming oil. Sir Daniel slips and slops his way over the oil and eventually flash fries one of the Fists in it. Heh. Bards do it with style.

We kill a few Fists. They rise from the dead and start attacking indiscriminately. This unnerves the living Fists a bit. Me too, although not as much as them it seems. Pretty soon there’s only an idiot with a bow left. We get in his face and give him two choices: die, or tell us everything you know about the temple complex. He chose the latter. Go figure. It wasn’t really much of a bargain, but then the pitiful amount of information he was able to provide almost made it seem like we should have just offed him and gone our merry way.

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Session 5
In the Land of the Dead

Feegle the goblin has turned into a very useful porter. As long as I don’t have to carry the barrel full of squid we’re using for rations, I’m happy to have him. The elaborately-locked and vault-like door has the words “Land of the Dead” painted over it in goblin. I suspect that between the bugbears, and explorers like Feegle, the place has claimed more than a few lives. It will pay to be careful, but I doubt it’s quite the apocalyptic scene the goblinoids envision.

Beyond the door (which we opened with the bugbears’ key), we find an array of curious machines and a series of ramps leading upwards. The ancient machines are apparently useful for making noise and the odd puff of black smoke, but little else. We did find the picture of a woman in one, and the controls seem scaled for human use. Beyond that, who knows what motivated the ancients to build this place? Based on the cryptic journal fragments we’ve found, we’re not the first to get lost in here. In fact, the writers seem to have regarded themselves as prisoners. If and when we find the bars of this “cage”, I wonder if we’ll reach the same conclusion?

At the top of the ramps we find a series of corridors and chambers in some form of grid. There are repetitive arrangements of alcoves stuffed with bones, and sarcophagi. Land of the Dead indeed. Oh, and fleeing elves. Did I mention them? Turns out the place is infested with swarms of beetles. Beetles that like to fill up corpses and then walk around in them until they get close and then burst out like some really bad birthday surprise. First mission: don’t become a corpse. Damn I hate beetles. There are some symbols here that I’m making some headway with, although the bits I’ve translated don’t sound very encouraging: “way”, “god”, “the”, “guards”, “flesh”, “makes”. Later on we found one that just translated “wrong way”. Ch’yuh. D’ya think?

Here’s how wrong it was: four magically-animated mummies (the first sign of arcane activity in the complex so far), and a couple of spell-casters of some sort. They were a bitch to deal with. We sealed ourselves up inside this room to escape the friggin’ beetles, which seem to have wandered off (perhaps to chase some more of those wandering elves?) A good night’s rest and a squid-wich for breakfast and we’re rarin’ to go.

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Session 4
Falling into Frustration

Dreams, bad dreams, are the kinds of things where you can never hit your assailant, or get away. You thrash, you run. None of it works. I should know, I spend most of my waking hours planting bad dreams in other people’s heads. That’s where the real damage gets done. Only yesterday it was me that was living a bad dream.

Damn, I’m glad to wake up today. I think I’ll take out some of those frustrations by making someone else’s life miserable. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The only really good reason to revisit yesterday is to tell you how epic the rest of this motley crew was. Start with Escher. We can hear all kinds of ruckus in the forest behind us. Ahead of us is the forbidden “Temple of the Gods”. Escher climbs up the wall and goes toe to toe with some kind of panther. And not just the run-of-the-mill, tear-out-your-throat kind, but a teleporting panther. Quicker than flies on a carcass. Sir Daniel, Rage and I manage to get stuck with Stirges. Big mosquitoes. A total bitch for me. I do NOT like being grabbed. By anything.

On top of the wall, a bunch of vines coalesce into an animate-plant creature of some sort, capable of shooting vines and other abusive plant matter. I raise a few grasping shadows to hold her in place and then knock her off the wall with a phantom bolt. Bought myself some more time to get sucked dry by the damn Stirge.

The ruckus in the forest turns out to be the tribe of lizardfolk zealots who were so incensed at our setting foot in their holy precincts. Only this time they’ve brought along a 20’-tall uber-lizard, complete with profane rider. No way I’m staying on the wall for this. Escher, Rage and Daniel are down in the cracked-up courtyard skewering the panther. Escher finished it with one of his signature blade-in-the-back moves. Pretty effective. Rage is charging about, splitting Stirges with his greataxe. If he wasn’t so wild, I’d let him hack the Stirge off me. I leave that to Escher’s more surgical approach. Now I owe him one. The plant lady shimmers through the portcullis and wraps Daniel up with a web of vines, so the group starts hacking on her.

I stop the plant lady with a maze of mirrors, and Rage makes a salad out of her. I’d stop to sample it, but the uber-lizard had jumped up on the wall at this point, and the zealots were trying to lift the portcullis. The boys have barred the door, and we race for the temple. Too late. The uber-lizard leaps into the courtyard, and we all discover that the reason the courtyard looks beat to hell is that it is all poised to collapse into hell. Which it does.

Fortunately for us there is a stone bridge below. Unfortunately for the uber-lizard, he misses the bridge and falls into the chasm it spans.

We find a boulder with a tempting piece of notepaper tucked under it. Bad dream #2: the boulder is, of course, a creature! It’s bad enough that the plants were a creature upstairs, now the rocks are against us. This particular rock figures out that slamming the bridge will make us fall down. In Sir Daniel’s case, this means falling off. It’s a long way down. I try to get a rope to him, but I’m way too late for that. Escher and Rage are between a rock boy, and a hard place (which happens to be a long way down from where we stand) but they’re punishing the rock boy. That’s when I spot the bugs at the other end of the bridge. It takes a couple of shots, but I manage to immobilize one of them. Not good enough — which is the story of my day so far. I belatedly figure out that it’d be useful to make rock boy believe there’s a bolt headed for his head. He dodges, but doesn’t fall. The bug is gonna get me.

Rock boy to the rescue! He bellows , the bug sees raging rock boy, and retreats. Smart bug. Rock boy slams the bridge again and knocks me off. (Later on I recall my shield spell, and wonder if it might have saved me. Crap.) I grab the rope that I’d set up to save Daniel. I can hear a river rushing below me, but it’s a long way off. I try to climb out. Not my strong suit. Escher and Rage manage to arrange themselves on either side of rock boy, herd him back into the cave, and finish him off. I’ve almost climbed the rope when I lose my grip and plummet into the river. What a load of excrement this day is turning out to be.

Rushing downstream, I try to recall the caves and sewers beneath Wellspring. I’ve spent enough time underground that it helps me stay afloat for a bit. Then I try to remember if Shathrax ever told me any stories of falling into rivers, or where they go underground, but it’s just too chaotic to think straight. I’m getting pummeled, and I’m not exactly the enduring sort when it comes to physical punishment. Finally, I try a twisting grab at a stalactite and crash my head against it instead, knocking myself out. Sweet unconsciousness!

I wake up on a torchlit beach with Sir Daniel humming one of his healing ditties over me. Escher has skillfully navigated the river like an otter, and is wringing out his cloak, while Rage — who doesn’t seem to be affected by anything the environment dishes out — stoically inspects the edge of his greataxe for notches from rock boy.

We decide to camp here for the night. The stupid piece of paper that started this whole escapade appears to be a journal fragment. Some hopeless bit of survivalist claptrap about solitude and madness. And two years of attack-free living. After yesterday, that sounds like heaven to me. Madness I can deal with. Animate rocks and plants I could do without. Before I go to sleep, I spend ten minutes reciting my ritual of fastidiousness, There’s nothing quite as satisfying as being clean, and remaining so, despite wandering in underground caves full of bugs, animate rocks, and torch-lighting grues. Tomorrow I plan to punish someone. I feel better already.

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Session 3
The Journey to the Temple

Note: Sir Daniel the Savage is not an entirely reliable narrator.

Having only hours earlier rescued and returned the Oracle of Veldanaya to safety, we were called upon once more. It seemed that the oracle’s prophecy was a dire, albeit non-specific one – as prophecies tend to be, in my experience. The silver dragon Cloudshaper had borne a child who was destined to do some great good, but who had not yet hatched. The egg was located in an isolated temple well-concealed deep within a most dangerous swamp. If said egg were to remain unprotected, some terrible fate would befall the land. And so, we were charged with a new task.

Departure was delayed slightly by deliberations and consultations regarding the local climes and the relevant supplies required. Our resident illusionist, in particular, thoughtfully inquired into the nature of the dangers we might face. One of her more fanciful ideas was to obtain a sheep’s bladder and fill the cured organ with air, thus providing buoyancy in case one found oneself suddenly thrashing around in the murky depths. Had I known what the swamplands helin store for us, I perhaps would not have thought this idea so amusing – but I get ahead of myself.

Our travel went most pleasantly, our steps no doubt lightened by my uplifting notes. Yet as I strummed upon my recently-purchased lute, I could not help but harbour an unpleasant feeling about what was to come. Our initial foray into the swamp was blessedly uneventful, and as night fell we set up camp, choosing not to risk travel by darkness. The watch was taken by Rage, our warforged barbarian. One advantage of his curious nature as a living construct is that he does not seem to require that which sustains most mortals – sleep, food, drink, or even air itself. This nature made him an excellent candidate to keep up the guard, and his lack of reliance on respiration would assist him later as well.

In any case, Rage woke us in the wee hours of the morn, alerting us to some danger edging ever closer. While Saraneth, Escher, and I readied our weapons, Rage advanced into the thickets in order to determine the nature of the threat. In seconds we heard a great wailing and gnashing of teeth, and Rage stumbled out of the bush, covered in snapping drakes. Turning to assist him, I was blindsided by a larger beast, which spewed acid from its snarling maw. Aside from Rage’s misfortune, and my temporary inability to conjure up sufficiently damaging verbal barbs with which to pepper our foes, we dispatched the wild creaures with little difficulty. The rest of the night passed peacefully, and we advanced further in the morn.

As we followed the snaking trail through the swamp, we spotted a lone figure standing in the distance. While my companions attempted to stealthily approach from behind the cover of foliage, I took a different tack, approaching in plain sight down the path, lute in tow. A particularly incisive limerick was cut short by the sound of a blade drawn by my head. I threw myself to the ground, but my assailant was nowhere to be seen. My suspicions were later confirmed – Saraneth had employed an auditory illusion in order to sway my course in case of potential danger. Effective, surely – but a simple “hold!” might have performed the trick just as well, and in any case spared me the intimate knowledge of the bog’s stench. These theatrics proved unnecessary when we closed on the figure and discovered that there were not one, but three armour-clad figures present. Perhaps more importantly, they had all been dead for some time – pinned up like gruesome scarecrows, a sign hanged over one body warning us of the danger to come. Yet we pressed further, and forthwith came upon what appeared to be a recently sacked camp.

Was this the last residence of those unfortunates we had just encountered? Escher noted a trail of blood from one tent and followed it, hoping for clues of some kind. Instead, it led him to the dark river, a bend of which edged one corner of the camp. While the rest of us scanned the camp for activity, Escher stepped up to the riverbank and was abruptly attacked by a reptilian beast of grand proportions, which tore at him with its hungry jaws. We rushed to assist him, but found ourselves surrounded by lizard-like creatures, who fell upon us with spear and blow-gun. Escher was nimble enough to escape the river-beast’s grasp, but when Rage charged the monster, we saw him dragged beneath the surface. Unfortunately for the beast, it had chosen the wrong target to try and drown, and as Rage hacked away at it, we sprang into action to see off the other scaly interlopers.

Saraneth led us into the pitched battle with unusual tactics – throwing herself, along with one of the campsite tents, into the foe. Meanwhile, I cursed our foes in their language of Draconic, but my words seemed to fall on deaf ears. Rage continued his struggle with the gator, managing to tear himself from the toothy trap, only to receive several blow-darts for his trouble. Perhaps foolishly, we continued to fight alongside the riverbank, giving the beast (which I suspect was water-bound all along) ample opportunities to strike at us. At one point, it ensnared my mail and jerked me into the bog. Only as a result of my deft maneuvering and the wounds already inflicted on the lizard by Rage’s strikes was I able to writhe free. Clamoring onto solid land, my mood was as foul as the stench which now hung over me. With a mighty cry to Avandra, I surged forward, striking down one of the feral lizardmen. Saraneth and Escher struck at the rest, while Rage crossed the river to deal with one of their more cowardly brethren. In something of an anti-climactic turn, Escher hurled a shuriken at the water-beast, almost as an afterthought. It struck it squarely in its misshapen eye, killing it once and for all.

Having weathered the poisonous barbs and striking spears, we routed the creatures and rendered one unconscious. As the only member of our band with knowledge of Draconic, I spoke with our captive, explaining our circumstances. My offers of cooperation were rejected at every turn, and the creature’s defiance nearly led me to finish it off before it could tell us anything. Regaining my composure, I delivered my final attempt at diplomacy, and my magicked words found resonance. The reptile hesitantly gave us directions to our destination, all the while reassuring us that if its compatriots did not defeat us, then the gods themselves would strike us down. Unfazed, we released our informant and redoubled our efforts towards the temple. Our directions proved accurate, no doubt leading us past many hazards. Finally, we arrived before the hidden temple, carried out initial inspections, and prepared a plan to cross the final barrier—a mighty wall and gate which surrounded the entire structure.

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Session 1
Intro 1, the search for the oracle

Bar Fight
Barroom brawl
Saving the novice ‘adventurers’ from getting kidnapped in the chaos

Joining the search for the oracle
Party is begged to help save the kidnapped oracle
Join up for a minimal reward, and to do something good

Investigating
Door lock melted to slag
Damage caused by large group of small creatures
All papers and notes, specifically regarding prophecy destroyed or stolen
Prophecy somehow relates to legendary good silver dragon, CloudShaper
One large horse and a number of small ponies rode out from the church out the south gate
A strange explosion occurred on the way, blasting at least one horse to pieces
Guard captain suspiciously left south gate unguarded

Ambush!
A group of street thugs ambush the party, cutting off Saraneth’s ear, and running

Chase Scene
The group attempted to chase down the ear thief, but he lost them amongst the city streets

The Black Fist
A paper leads the group to Portly Pete’s Potent and Powerful Potions, Pronunciations, Postures, and Prayers
The ear was part of a scam ritual sold to the city’s gang, the Black Fist
The ritual, in addition to lots of weird ingredients, required left eye of a silver dragon
Party gets some useful scrolls

Out the gate
The party finds a hidden campground a ways outside the gate
Clever trap, cleverly disarmed
Strange goblin creatures that act rabid and have acidic blood
Two kobolds with unreliable but powerful nailguns ambushed as well
Trail leads east to an old goblin lair under a waterfall

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