After a short rest, we looked around and evaluated our options for proceeding further into the ruined keep. One passage held stairs that seemed to lead down to a lower dungeon level, so we decided to leave that one for later. The other two had more gently sloping stairs—almost ramps—leading only a short way down. One of these ended in a rocky, unfinished passage, while the second one led onto a normal, wide corridor. We decided to follow the second one, and moved on down the stairs.
We came to the end of a hallway with three doors to choose from—two single doors, one north and one west, and a set of double doors to the east. Merric listened at them all, detecting voices on the other side of the northern single door which had a lock on it.
We first opened the western single door as it seemed the least threatening. We found ourselves in a storage room filled with mining equipment and also what appeared to be used implements of torture. Wil helped himself to a coil of hempen rope, while Merric (at Venjin’s suggestion) took some of the remaining rope and tied the handles of the double doors on the east side of the hallway securely shut so no one surprised us from the rear. We then prepared to open the single door to the north. This required us to defeat its lock, which Merric did with a dazzling display of thievery skill (I believe he rolled in the thirties, which we decided meant that he threw his lockpicking tools roughly in the direction of the lock and it instantly opened).
The plan was elegant: Merric would open the door, pretend to be frightened at the sight of its occupants, and then retreat. The enemies would follow him out into the hall, where the rest of us, hiding along the wall out of sight, would then attack by surprise. At the last minute, however, the halfling decided to kick in the door instead of just opening it.
The door, it turned out, did not open inward.
As Merric hopped about, cursing and clutching his throbbing foot, a goblin came to investigate and threw open the door. A warning from Venjin saved the thief from being grabbed by the guard, but Jett—standing just outside the door—was less lucky. The goblin grabbed him and pulled him into the chamber beyond, so we were forced to battle the goblins on their chosen turf.
The room was a fully outfitted torture chamber, featuring an enormous rack, an iron maiden, a cage large enough to hold several persons, a sunken pit full of hot coals (in which rested several white-hot iron pokers), and two tables displaying an array of slashy-pokey-pinchy tools crusted with gore and sinew. To the west, the room narrowed to a hallway with more empty cells for potential victims.
As Jett was dragged through the doorway into the room, we saw a hulking figure beyond him clad in a bloody leather apron, ordering a trio of goblin sharpshooters to fire on us. Venjin charged him and knocked him backward into the pit of burning coals. Though the fire seared his flesh, the goblin only laughed at his wounds and rose to fight.
While Jett and the goblin warrior dueled with sword and spear, and Venjin distracted the torturer with brash strikes, Moirae and Wil focused fire on the goblin sharpshooter in the middle of the room and were able to put him down in just a few rounds. Merric, the Halfling, made a mad dash for the rack in the center of the room and hid underneath it. He spent the next few rounds of the battle attacking the torturer from his hiding spot although one of the sharpshooters (also being smaller in size) had line-of-sight to Merric and was able to pepper him with crossbow bolts even in hiding. Meanwhile, Wil lent supporting fire through the doorway—although he sadly was still suffering from the distracting effects of the Shadowfell and made a poor showing for himself.
We got excellent results from the strikers focusing fire on one target at a time, and made short work of the torturer. Having taken several bolts, once the torturer was down, Merric made a dash for the implement table in the northwest corner of the room and used the darkness there to conceal himself and tend to his wounds taking heals from Venjin. The crossbowmen fared no better than the torturer, and with his allies dead the goblin warrior surrendered to Venjin.
Since there happened to be a rack handy—I mean, c’mon, it was just sitting there—Venjin and Wil secured the goblin to it and began to question him. They didn’t end up having to use the rack as its designers intended. A few well-placed glove slaps, along with a blazing poker applied in meaningful proximity to the goblin’s junk, were all it took to get the prisoner talking.
He told us that the goblins in the keep were sort of middlemen between the late Irontooth’s troop of kobolds and a group of hobgoblin slave-traders called the Bloodreavers, from the Thunderspire Mountains. The kobolds would bring their captured slaves to the keep, and the goblins there would then sell the slaves to the Bloodreavers. The goblins were led by a cruel (and, apparently, fat) goblin chieftain named Balgron, who lives in a chamber past the set of double doors we had tied shut earlier. When asked about the nature of the slaves (Were they all human? Where do you get the slaves? etc.) The warrior said that most were farmers from the nearby village, but some were dressed differently in strange colorful garb. Venjin pointed to Moirae and asked, “Like her?” The goblin confirmed.
After our enhanced interrogation of the goblin, we discussed how to dispose of him. At Venjin’s behest, we ended up stripping him, binding his wrists, leading him back to the entrance of the Keep and kicking him out into the wild. Venjin also ordered him to tell any goblins or kobolds he met that they had best learn to fear the names of Venjin al-Sokamji and the Nentir Vale Provisional Authority.
We were now back in the first chamber of the Keep and realized there was a room we had not fully explored the first time through here. We found old bones presumably all that is left of the old residents of the Keep and, also presumably, moved here from other sections of the Keep and placed in piles. Very odd. Ancient crates and useless junk also left over from the glory days of the Keep were in here as well. Next to this, however, was a small pile of items left more recently. Clothing and other items from the slaves. Among the mostly worthless items was a Vistani Eye Amulet which Moirae recognized as as item belonging to the matriarch of her Vistani tribe. She is now torn as to how she wants to proceed. She has been told by the goblin warrior that the Bloodreavers made a slave pick up not too long ago and that the slaves were taken from the Keep. Her first instinct is to go after them to try and get to them while they are still alive. However, the Keep needs to be dealt with as the rift to the Shadowfell is nearly open….