RosterBolstered by the activation of the arcane circle, the party turns their attention to the waterfall. Alarik slips through the curtain of water into a convenient shadowy corner on the other side, there to spy a walled complex hammered out of the granite and lit by flickering torches. Kobolds lie in wait there... lots of kobolds. Alarik is spotted by an armed kobold skulking in the shadows nearby, and retreats towards his friends, hoping to pull the creatures out into the open... but Berend has other ideas, charging into the cave with a battle-cry falling from his lips. He is quickly surrounded by skittering, stabbing kobolds, and the rest of the party has no choice but to engage the enemy.
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 1
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 1
Alarik - Dwarven Rogue 1
Krakd - Dragonborn Cleric 1 (DMPC)
The mob applies egregious wounding to the dwarven fighter, darting in and out of range of his weapon and creating opportunities for their more powerful allies to flank him and attack him even more viciously. Berend is laid low within just a few seconds, collapsing to the ground in a chaos of kobold bodies and flashing blades.
More kobolds pour from the complex to engage the intruders. A Wyrmpriest shuffles out of the shadows, muttering entreaties to Orcus under his breath and bolstering his allies, and then finally Irontooth himself appears, a heavily armoured hobgoblin wielding a massive battle-axe. He goads the characters and raises a cheer from the assembled kobolds as he charges into combat with Krakd, the dragonborn dangerously exposed by his efforts to keep Berend alive.
The subsequent appearance of kobold Dragonshields, who have quietly flanked the party and are now poised to attack Elumai, signals impending doom for the characters. First Krakd, then Alarik fall under the relentless assault, bleeding slowly to death on the cold stone. Elumai abandons the heroic notion of dragging one of her compatriots from danger when it becomes obvious she is the last one standing and now faces multiple enemies -- including a barely injured Irontooth and his priest -- without any hope of rescue or aid. She has no choice but to escape back through the waterfall, leaving her friends to whatever dreadful fate the hobgoblin has in store for them.
Not even stopping to catch her breath, she retreats to town and arrives at Winterhaven exhausted, but intact. She immediately throws herself on the mercy of Rond, begging for aid even as the honorable warrior calls for assistance. He is quickly convinced by her charms, and agrees to arrange a meeting with Lord Padraig in order to persuade him that her friends are alive and only await rescue.
Elumai and Rond are accepted by Padraig's butler, and enjoy a private audience with the town's patron in a comfortable drawing room. Padraig refuses at first to budge from his stated position: an assault on the kobolds would leave the town recklessly undefended against other dangers... or against a kobold counter-attack. However, Elumai's cunning grasp of local history, Padraig's reluctance to be spoken of in the same breath as certain other foolish councilmen, as well as her demonstrable power at conjuring a map of the kobold lair in the very pile of his carpet, are enough to persuade him otherwise. He agrees to raise a militia of guardsmen and certain willing farmers, to set off the following day.
Alarik, Berend, and Krakd are awoken some indeterminate amount of time later as the freezing waterfall washes over them. They have been stripped of their equipment and weapons, bound at the hands and feet, and placed in the back of a rolling cart. Carefully looking around, they see that they are being led as part of a large procession consisting of hobgoblins and kobolds, with Irontooth overseeing, towards the standing stones of the arcane circle.
With utmost precision, Elumai chooses this moment to attack. The six men under her command stream forward through the trees, distracting the hobgoblins while the wizard executes what is becoming her signature maneuver: a pre-emptive Freezing Cloud. It dispatches a few kobolds immediately, giving her friends the opportunity to slip their bonds and grab a weapon. Berend grabs Irontooth by the throat, and the two of them lock in a sinew-straining struggle, the dwarf attempting to immobilise the hobgoblin while dodging blows from his massive axe. Despite the relative inexperience of the town guard, and the compromised positions of the characters, the fight appears to swing in the party's favour.
However, it's around this moment that one of Elumai's command takes the opportunity to kill the kobold he is facing... spilling the dragon-kin's blood into the sacred circle. The runes immediately flare into life, throbbing with unearthly energy which more than one character recognises for exactly what it is: a summoning ritual. Elumai orders one of the farmers accompanying her to attack the circle, and he overcomes his own terror to obey her orders, bringing his pitchfork to bear on the glassy runes buried in the earth. Energy spits and crackles from the runes as he digs... desperate to prevent the arrival of some new monstrosity...