The Company of the Bloody Boots as they were now being called in town, set about preparing for their next trip to the old tower. They purchased a two wheeled cart and tack so the donkeys could pull it. They bought nails, planks, block & tackle, and other gear to use when fixing up the doors in the tower, along with additional rations and supplies for the trip. Altogether another few days in town passed and then they were on their way.
As they made their bumpy way through tall grass along the same animal trail they had followed previously Pedro spotted the fall of three arrows about a yard short of his companions, but there was no obvious sign of the attackers. Immediately the group drew weapons and began to look for the threats.
They began to make an attempt to locate the enemy by firing a couple random shots in the direction the arrows had come from. Apparently one of their shots struck close causing a barrage of return fire with one arrow striking Elanna. They now had a better idea where to aim and Rowena came up with a brilliant idea.
Gulping down the potion of plant control she focused her mind in the direction of the enemy and had the waving tall grass lie flat in a large circluar area, much like a crop circle. Exposed off-center toward the back of the flattened grasses was a goblin with his shortbow drawn. His look of surprise served to spur the group to action and he broke and ran. This would be the first maneuver with the plant control that would serve to turn this ambush into a rapid victory.
A sleep spell managed to drop the runner and one of his companions though it missed a third that could now be detected by the disturbance among the high plant growth. Tok took aim and sent a sling stone sailing to thwere he thought the third goblin would be. His assessment was perfect and a loud crack sound preceded a cessation of movement.
More arrow fire errupted from behind the party with one shot again striking Elanna, driving her to the ground. Pedro immediately came to her side and discovering her alive, but unconscious began his healing prayer.
Thorgrim and Miera charged toward this new set of attackers as Fred moved toward the original group, soon to be followed by Pedro.
Rowenna sensing an opportunity, swept her attention toward the new threat, the grasses jostling as she moved the center of her control along the ground. As her control reached the point she perceived as her target she commanded the grasses to twist into formations much like sheaves of wheat in a farmer's field. Her aim was true and three of the dozen groupings of twisted grass cursed and struggled as the trapped goblins tried in vain to free themselves.
With no more arrows coming in, they gathered the captured goblins together and the dwarves began to question them. Getting nowhere with questions about where they came from, Thorgrim showed his impatience and disgust by beheading two of the four captives.
Miera was having no more of this treatment, suggesting instead that these bandits be turned over to the town to be dealt with. Fred agreed that the last two might serve a better purpose and he and Thorgrim tied the goblins to the cart to help pull.
Upon arrival at the tower the two goblin prisoners were put to work helping carry equipment to the roof. With most of the party below the dwarves decided to resolve the prisoner question expediantly. A crashing through the tree canopy was followed by the thudding of goblin bodies at the base of the tower to the shock of the rest of the party who upon recovering the ability to speak asked why they couldn't wait until the cleaning was finished.
The party set to cleaning the still disgusting ground floor and third floor. Discovering that someone forgot to buy shovels, they created makeshift utensils from the planks and hide armor from the goblins. Progress was slow so four of the group decided to find a local source of water and set off searching the woods.
Tok, Valen, Pedro, and Thorgrim spent most of the day following small streams until the came upon a pond fed by a fresh spring. The air near the spring was very cool with a light mist clinging near the plants and surface of the water. That is when the giant toads attacked.
Everyone except for Tok was taken by surprise as the toads lashed out with their 15 foot long tongues trying to grab prey. Tok's instinct to seek cover in the foliage served him well and although being small made him a favored morsel, he was able dodge the hungry toads attacks.
During the fight Thorgrim was grabbed and pulled into a toad's mouth for a nasty bite and as the fight progressed his legs and new red boots were chewed on. Tok finished off a toad with a sling bullet through the eye and Valen stood his ground against the third as Pedro sought safe distance. When combined efforts by Tok and Thorgrim felled a second toad, the third fled into the water trailing blood.
The four decided staying around trying to collect water now would be ill advised in case something else lurked nearby drawn by the smell of the dead toads. They made their way back to the tower by nightfall.
After a couple of days at the tower, the party decided that the oracle room was now clean enough to attempt a couple of questions. Made curious by their discussion with Olhatta about the silver coins, they decided to try two questions about Stone Hell, where was it and how would they get there.
Aiden and Fred were chosen as the two who would be in the room to ask the questions and write down the answers as it was felt that having ten people in the room would risk cluttering things too much. Removing the silver lid and raising the panel on the enruned ebony cylinder they asked their questions.The radiant fae within the device beamed brightly and spun the contraption, stopping twice to shine light through panels of stained glass upon groups of symbols on the walls.
Group one was Indigo (Sky), Blue (Mountain), Red (Valley), Orange (Cage).
Group two was Yellow (Keep), Indigo (Sea), Indigo (Boat), Blue (Bear).
At first Aiden and Fred were puzzled until Fred mentioned that he thought Indigo indicated things to be ignored. Olhatta had explained that her group had once looked for the prison and believed it to be somewhere near the center of this island. They most likely would not need to cross the sea in a boat or fly into the sky to find something dug into the ground on this island.
Consulting with the rest of the group resulted in a lengthy discussion. Eventually they decided Fred had to be right and maybe the Indigo was also things that did pertain to the original group sent to the island. They had crossed the sea in a boat and a storm landed them in Restenford from which they set out exploring.
Other thoughts included the idea of Hot/Cold based on colors. If you are searching in the sky or sea you are very cold and when you are finding the brighter colors like yellow, orange, and red you are warmer or even hot. Or maybe they could look for it in the mountains and if they see a bear they are getting closer. Then if they locate a valley with a keep they'll find the cage which must be the prison.
Supplies were running low and sleeping in the tower was uncomfortable so after three days they returned to the town of Lake Farmin. Ahead of them entering the gates was a train of 4 wagons guarded by 8 men-at-arms on foot, 4 drivers and 4 more persons seated beside the drivers. The wagons were packed with large crates surrounded by straw for cushoning.
After paying gate tax, they headed to the inn to discover this same group purchasing the rooms they normally rented. That left the barn as the only sleeping choice. Despite the cheaper cost, there was still much grumbling about expenses.
As they prepared to bed down they conversed with 4 of the men-at-arms who also had to share the barn. Looking at a map the guards explained they had come in from the city of Kroten and were being paid to escort a fragile cargo here, but had no idea what it contained.
The party noticed that the map showed the central mountain chain along which were the city of Kroten, Kendall Keep, and the town of Wolford. While far from detailed, the map might have just shown them what they needed to know if they wanted to locate Stone Hell.