We found ourselves camped at “Fort Ammon”, now little more than a piece of wall and a denser complement of stones on a hillside strewn with ‘em. Q and Galuzard sat down for a beer with Beyd, the brewer. They both ordered his Trade Route Barleywine, which Q got for free in exchange for some of the beer in his tummy fermenter. A quick conference with Sheranya later surfaced the amusing fact that we would come out quite poor from our adventure if our only income were *Oin’s* gold and we attempted to buy one of these fine barleywines each day. During our drink, Eldkin (a spunky lady dwarf who has travelled this road many a time) informed us that Fort Ammon is a safe place along the trade route, whose residual magics keep the monsters at bay. That explained why everyone seemed so relaxed.
Sheranya, meanwhile, was working her wiles on the half-elf cultist from before. He didn’t let anything about the cult slip, and came off more as hired muscle than a deeply-involved cultist. Then again, he was pretty quick to shut up after another glare from his superior.
Thus socialized and filled with barleywine, the caravan continued its way up the road. As we crested a hill the next day, we saw laid out below us a classic standoff. A disabled caravan wagon sat in the middle of the road, its boxes piled at one side as a makeshift barricade. Across a stony field, a ring of rocks held a troupe of hobgoblin archers led by a very mean, very ugly, rather large hobgoblin. There appeared to be no incentive for either side to make the first move. Our heroes raced down the road to the caravan to see how we could be of help. Marcus, the owner of the wagon, informed us that they had broken an axle and couldn’t move, that they couldn’t advance on the hobgoblins without becoming pincushions, and that they anticipated that the hobgoblins would mob them at night with their superior darkvision.
Q, his military training coming to bear, ripped the lids off three of the boxes, much to the dismay of Marcus. Sheranya managed to smooth him over, promising he’d keep his life in exchange for temporary use of the lids. (p.s., she rolled a 20; he was VERY convinced, nice job) The three heroes advanced in a phalanx behind their box lids. They turned back to see two other guards from their caravan racing up, one of whom was unfortunately cut down by the hobgoblin archers. The other turned tail back to the caravan. After some hacky slashy, the three heroes returned victorious to Marcus and his caravan, with two box lids intact and one neatly sliced in half. Being without many means at the time, Marcus instead gifted them a blue chip, which he asked them to bring to his friend Darren in Waterdeep for proper thanks.
Further up the road, our heroes reached the Troll Claws. At a pinch point, they were beset by an ogre and his goblin friends, but made short work of them. Hidden up a valley spur, they discovered a locked chest which they were too eager to pick and smashed it open, finding inside some shattered potion bottles, a diamond (100gp), some fancy super-straight arrows, a bag of powder (later determined to be sneezing powder of some variety), and a scroll bearing the image of a humanoid in a cage. Pocketing these items, they continued on.
Q attempted to ply Eldkin for information (and gain her friendship). In the process, he came to know that she has a very finely-made Elven sword in her possession, the identification of which she appreciated greatly. She may have some suspicions about the heroes, however: she mentioned that they are better equipped than most guards, and that they carry themselves just a bit differently.
Sheranya went to speak with the owner of the gargoyle caravan discovered last time, but he was reticent and we got little information from him (Sheranya, correct if wrong, I don’t have notes on this).
The following day, still passing through the troll claws, the caravan stopped short when our heroes spotted a human head in the road. For real. It turned out to be a man buried up to his neck, left to die of dehydration, whom we unburied and gave water to. His name is Carlon Amoffel, and he has an intriguing tattoo on his arm. Sheranya has deduced that he may belong to the Harpers, and has a meeting with him later, to which he asked her to go alone…