– Part 2 –
The Summer Palace, Chapter 9
The party arrives at the village of Monton. Once the size of Foxon, Monton has seen better times and the population has been dwindling. Aside from the only remaining likeness of the long dead last margrave, a statue in the town square, Monton was best known in the county as the location of the margrave’s summer palace and a sort of vacation town for the upper class in Bas Eldritch. There is a weak trade route with Bas Eldritch the village is desperately clinging to and would like to improve.
Unlike Foxon which is ruled by a council of alders, Monton is led through a sort of hereditary mayorship. The current mayor is Swith Masmond.
Masmond is whom the party has been tasked to relate the goings on at Foxon, to give fair warning about a possible Drow conspiracy, and to tell about the corpses at the Hag Tree.
Arriving in town, the party encounters the great statue of the last margrave. It has seen better days with cracks in the stone, some of the facial features broken away, and one of the forearms is gone. Behind the statue is a rather large chapel, its tall stone stairs lead to a huge oaken door above which in stained glass is what looks like a symbol to Pelor.
The party moves through the town noticing it seems to not so much be in disrepair but slowly being abandoned. There are obviously more buildings than there are occupants–a queer combination of long shuttered businesses, newly closed ones, and well-maintained, lived in homes next to slouching cottages on the verge of collapse. Although the streets aren’t empty, there is very little foot traffic giving the town a ghostly feel.
Finally, the group stand before what is clearly Masmond’s home, the mayor’s mansion. The party are a bit surprised to see that this mansion is almost the exact same style of architecture as the Moncrief estate. Having seen the newly renovated mansion Celia has grated them as a homebase, it seems odd to stand before an apparent replica of the building. The differences between the mayor’s mansion and Moncrief estate come down to color choice (there is a deep, elegant purple painted on the trim and shutters of the mayor’s mansion) and upkeep as the mayor’s mansion looks to appear pristine. This is an odd sight given the general shoddiness of Monton as a whole.
Before the door is what would appear to be a guard. However, the young man isn’t holding a weapon–a lance, spear, or glaive–but just a ten foot pole. The party approach being immediately warmly greeted by the guard who sounds oafish if not agreeable. Asking who they might be so he can tell the lord inside, the party say they are friends of Edda Taisi and come with urgent news from Foxon for the mayor.
The guard seems genuinely excited. He thrusts his pole into John’s hands and rushes inside while the party waits snickering somewhat. In short order, the guard returns and warmly lets the group in. He nearly forgets to take his pole back from John.
Within the mansion, the party quickly meets a woman, her hair cut into a very short bob and seemingly looking like a 12 year old girl. Yet she is wearing snug fitting padded leather armor, standing with military precision, and putting forth a very stoic demeanor. She asks the party what they need of the mayor. After hearing from the party, she closes the door on them and then a moment later opens it allowing the group to enter. Once everyone is in the room, the young woman closes the door and seems to stand at guard watching the party like a hawk.
The party now have an audience with Swith Masmond. He stands behind his desk, then makes a flourish of turning and sitting down. Masmond is dressed in overly elaborate clothing of many layers. Tall with an impressive upper body, he has a severe looking scar down one side of his face and closely cropped silver-white hair. Addressing the party, Masmond greets the adventurers by saying he’s heard they are responsible for the rescue of Edda Taisi.
Nym and John confirm this as Masmond goes on to explain how Zarongel’s Boys has been hampering the town’s trade with Bas Eldritch. He more than implies he’d love for the party to finally put an end to them. In the course of the discussion, the party discovers the last margrave’s palace grounds consists of three buildings–a private chapel, a training grounds, and the palace proper. There is a passageway from a tower in Monton which used to serve as a means for the margrave’s entourage (servants, guardsmen, and others) to arrive ahead of him from the palace. Masmond tells the group there may be activity on the old palace grounds but he hasn’t the competent militia to scout it out.
He does offer a reward for the permanent dissolution of the goblin gang, wherever they may be, and encourages the party to speak with the high priest Amoros Twinge at the Pelor cathedral, someone who may have more information for them.
Heading back to the Pelorian cathedral to talk to the priest, Jorg decides to break off to explore the town and secure the group rooms at the boarding house in town. Inside the cathedral, the party observes the near empty church to be like Masmond’s house pristine in stark contrast to the surrounding buildings. John strides confidently through the interior of the cathedral to the a door off to the side of the alter. He knocks several times before a befuddled voice beckons them to enter.
While not an excessively old man, Amoros Twinge rambles, loses his concentration, and seems to not really be able to follow any of the questions or statements the party puts forth. John is able to discern the priest is in some stage of an Alzheimer’s like disease. It’s clear as the party talks to Twinge the elderly priest isn’t a font of information. However, John is able to search the chamber discovering a description of the margrave’s private chapel and the golden statue there with a more detailed map of the passageways from Monton to the summer palace. Wandering around the cathedral, Asher encounters an acolyte, Beric, who explains that Twinge is really only coherent in the evening, a kind of reverse ‘sundowner syndrome.’ He also reveals to Asher how a few years after the last margrave died there was an earthquake which destroyed the private chapel. There are rumors a solid gold statue of Pelor is still there, but Beric doubts reasoning if there were actually one it would have been brought here long ago.
The party leaves deciding to use the passageways to go to the summer palace to investigate. The hopes are that there is loot to be had at the chapel and perhaps they’ll be able to encounter the goblin gang on their way.
The passage is dusty and dark. It’s clear the party are the first people to use it in quite some time. They progress without incident coming to a fork in the tunnel. To the left, there is a symbol that is a sort of asterisk carved into the wall, and to the right, there is a square carved into the wall. The party reasons the asterisk is a sun and the passage leads to the chapel, so they decide to follow it. They come to the passage’s end throwing open the wooden doors and arising as though from a basement cellar.
Emerging into a clearing surrounded by woods with a narrow path leading offer across the clearing, the party follow the path. It is evening now and through the dark they make out a glow through the trees and hear a sneering, grumbling language reminding them of goblin and worgish.
The goblin gang are camped among the ruins. Nym casts Barkskin in preparation on herself. Jorg moves closer staying hidden in the trees to get a better look. Two goblins are chipping away at a golden statue breaking away pieces and melting them down into bars. They have already broken down an arm and a leg into 15 one pound gold bars (one pound equaling 50 gold pieces). Two other goblins stand in the center of the ruins overseeing and discussing among themselves alongside a worg. These two goblins Jorg recognizes from the maze ruins. There is a goblin riding atop a worg and another worg at the entrance of the ruins.
Jorg returns to the party to report prompting John to move closer to see if the goblins are desecrating a depiction of Pelor. John can make out the statue isn’t a depiction of Pelor but rather looks very similar to the statue of the margrave from Monton’s town square. The worgs at the entrance of the ruined chapel catch party’s scent and the gang goes on alert.
The party rolls for initiative.
The goblin gang is furious, and when it realizes party is the same that drove it off of Edda Taisi’s caravan and harried them in the maze ruins, they decide to fight to the finish. Asher quickly engages the gang drawing the leader to him as Jorg darts in and out of cover to strike at them. John again deploys his Lightning Bolt spell vaporizing two worgs, injuring one of the goblins working on looting the statue, and overturns a smelting cauldron spilling molten gold all over the ruins floor.
Nym and Roben deal enough damage to the mounted goblin to put them in dire straits. Although the remaining goblins come to surround Asher, they fail to do significant damage to the monk. Using the jade orb given to the party by Zaghain on their departure from Foxon, Asher shreds the goblins around him. Jorg makes it a point to finish off the beaten goblins. The goblins are unable to organize any meaningful attack upon the party and are quickly snuffed out.
With the gang defeated, the party loot the bodies discovering three hide wrapped items. Jorg, Roben, and Asher recognize these items are wrapped in the same kind of hide and style as the Circlet of Blasting looted from the minotaur in the maze. They conclude the gang must have either defeated or stolen the treasures the monsters were guarding either while the half party was there or afterwards. They discover:
With the standard patches plus these: one of 10 gems, two of a 25 foot ladder, two of a rowboat, large tent, one of a shovel/pickaxe/axe, four of Healing Potions, a pit 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep, a spell scroll of Invisibility, and a spell scroll of Leomund’s Tiny Hut.
+1 Dagger of Warning: A magic weapon warning you of danger that while on your person gives advantage on initiative rolls. In addition, you and any of your companions within 30 feet can’t be surprised, except when incapacitated by something other than nonmagical sleep. The weapon magically awakens you and your companions within range if any of you are sleeping naturally when combat begins.
The party then turns its attention to the gold statue. The group debates whether or not to continue what the goblins started. They collect the fifteen gold bars distributing them equally among themselves. However, they decide against it preferring to leave it where it is perhaps coming back later if need be.
As this is going on, Nym decides to cast Speak With Plants to discover more information about the goblins. She questions the trees, bushes, and grass around her discovering the goblins came here looking to recoup their loses from being driven away from Edda Taisi’s caravan. The trees try to answer Nym’s questions but being so old their sense of time makes it difficult to understand. They also have a habit of arguing among themselves. Just as she is about to give up, the mushrooms along the path whisper to her.
As a colony organism, the mushrooms have knowledge of not just the clearing but farther into the forests. They reveal the goblins showed up recently wanting to loot the statue as quickly as possible. The gang feared being discovered by hobgoblins. The trees then break in asking Nym to put out the remains of their friend. Apparently one of the trees, Karl, was cut down to serve as fuel for the smelting of the gold from the statue, and the trees are a bit horrified by seeing their companion burned. Nym relates all this to the party as they are debating whether or not to continue looting the statue.
She then decides to conjure water, put out the fire, collect the ashes, and bury them in the woods. Once she has the ashes, the trees begin to sway or shudder in what seems like approval. The bushes and undergrowth seem to make a path for Nym taking her to Karl’s stump where she ‘buries’ the ashes. As her Speak With Plants spell ends, the trees tell her they will stand watch over the party if they decide to make camp in the ruins for night.
The party decides to do exactly that and rests for the evening.