After catching up, the party began to make its way into Solace proper, where they met a bunch of hobgoblins, under the leadership of one Fewmaster Toede, who was mounted on a stout pony. The hobgoblins had set up a roadblock and were inspecting all entries for a staff of blue crystal. They claimed to work for the town of Solace.
The party was skeptical; they had been gone for two years, but they’d never heard of hobgoblins working for Solace. When the hobgoblins demanded the staff Goldmoon was carrying, the party refused. Toede ordered the hobgoblins to kill them and take the staff for inspection.
Combat ensued. In the end, the hobgoblins were dead and Toede was being dragged by his pony across the fields, his foot stuck in the stirrup, cursing the whole way and swearing revenge—particularly on Helrak who had done much to make Toede’s life a living hell over the last few moments. Not knowing what to do with the aftermath of the combat, the party stashed the dead hobgoblins on the side of the road and did their best to look nonchalant as they strolled into Solace.
The first thing they learned as they entered the Inn of the Last Home, because the place was simply abuzz with the news, was that hobgoblins has been recently hired by the High Theocrat Hederick to augment the local militia. The rumor was that they were inspecting all travelers for a staff of blue crystal, which was apparently of extreme importance to the Seekers. Exchanging glances and raised eyebrows, they quickly sat down at the table where Flint and Tasselhoff were awaiting them.
The first thing Thorim asked Flint was for news of Kitiara, whom he had missed terribly. A grim-faced Flint handed over a letter he had received from a strange man dressed in deeply hooded full-length robes. The letter was from Kitiara, claiming that she had taken up with an employer to the northeast near Kalaman. She regretted her inability to rejoin the group. Thorim began to brood.
They were served by Tika Waylan, a young dwarven lass who works as a barmaid for Otik, the proprietor of the Inn of the Last Home. Helrak, who on his previous visits to Solace had considered Tika nothing but a scrappy girl, now found himself quite unable to look away from her, and began to flirt quite earnestly. Thorim, upset over Kitiara’s absence, did his best to disrupt Helrak’s flirting, but soon became distracted by the religious argument in the corner.
The party soon became aware that the High Theocrat Hederick was at the Inn of the Last Home with them, and was involved in a somewhat heated discussion with an old man wearing shabby robes that may once have been white, but had long ago faded to a dirty gray. The discussion appeared to surround the old Gods verses the New Gods. Hederick, a high-standing member of the Seekers of the Lordcity of Haven, appeared to be allowing the other man to argue that the old Gods existed and that the New Gods were non-existent. Hederick had been known on more than one occasion to have people put in the stocks (or worse) for such blasphemy, and yet he was frequently allowing the old man to continue, even as he decried his arguments.
The party asked Flint about the old man, who shrugged. The man had showed up a few weeks ago and spent every evening at the Inn arguing religion with Hederick. He was stumped as to how he had survived this long.
Around this point Thorim, disappointed at his inability to disrupt the flirting between Tika and Helrak, decided to go have a chat with this strange man. The man introduced himself as Fizban the Fabulous, and was quite disappointed when Thorim confessed at never having heard of him. Fizban claimed to be a wizard of some repute, and spent some time leafing through his spellbooks for the spell “Fireball” before he was (eventually) interrupted by Thorim to ask him a few questions. They began to chat about the old Gods (interrupted frequently by Hederick’s claims of blasphemy) for a few minutes, at which point several children, clearly dressed for bed, rushed into the Inn demanding a story from Fizban. This was apparently a regular thing, as the entire common room hushed in anticipation. Fizban, with a glance at Thorim and the rest of the party across the room, began to relate the Canticle of the Dragon. Afterward Hederick snorted, claiming that there were no such things as Dragons. The children were sent to bed, and Thorim attempted to re-engage Fizban in a religious discussion, but Fizban would have none of it. Instead, he called across the room to Goldmoon, saying to her: “You have a song in your heart, Chieftan’s Daughter. Sing it for us, please”. At which point Goldmoon, to the surprise of the entire party, began to sing (see Song of Goldmoon).
At mention of the Blue Crystal Staff, Hederick stood up during the song, but was calmed down, somehow, by Fizban. Instead, Fizban looked at Goldmoon and asked her “Could you be the ones? You, chieftan’s daughter, and your companions? I wonder. May I see the staff please?”
Goldmoon got up and joined Fizban at his table near the fire; she was accompanied by the other PCs, who were wary of Fizban and the staff, given the reception with the Hobgoblins. She handed Fizban the Blue Crystal Staff, currently appearing as a simple quarterstaff. As he took the staff it flashed with blue light and revealed its true form, that of a slender staff of the purest blue crystal. “Ahh,” he said. “I’ve not seen this since… well, not for a very long time. If you use it with faith and conviction, it will serve you well.” He handed it back to Goldmoon and said: “You must take it to Xak Tsaroth. There you will find the greatest treasure in the world.”
As he handed the staff to Goldmoon, whatever spell Fizban had cast upon Hederick shattered, and, perceiving the staff, he demanded it from Goldmoon. When she refused to give it to him, he attempted to take it from her by force. When he grabbed the staff, blue light flashed from it, injuring his hand. Hederick began to call for the guards.
At this point, the PCs were in full motion. Silentstorm, defending his fiancee, pushed Hederick into the fire, where he lit up like a torch. The other PCs each attacked him as well as he ran around the room on fire. Goldmoon, a look of pain on her face, quipped “What is wrong with you people?” and hit Hederick with her staff. Immediately the fire vanished and Hederick was fully healed. With the boots of many feet on the stairs outside the inn, the PCs decided to go out the back door. Tika, with a kiss to Helrak for luck, suggested that they head to her place to get supplies, then get out of town until things died down. Flint and Tasselhoff, who had not been part of the combat, elected to stay at the Inn and try to help calm things down.
Outside, Helrak obstinately refused to go to Tika’s house, on the grounds that it might get her in trouble. Guessing that the bridges and porches of Solace would likely be searched first, the party decided to take to the ground and make their way out of Solace to the east, towards the last known location of Xak Tsaroth, which reportedly fell into the New Sea during the Cataclysm. Choosing stealth over speed, the party crept east along the forest floor, but soon discovered that going east would run them into several dozen hobgoblins, who had apparently already set up a blockade. They opted for north, instead, and as they passed one of the only buildings on the ground in Solace, the forge, they were beckoned inside by the local blacksmith, Theros Ironfeld.
Theros, a long friend of the PCs, told them that their best bet was to head across the Crystalmir Lake. He had a boat along the shore on the other side of Solace that he used for fishing. The way was mostly under cover, so they could have a better chance of avoiding being seen. The PCs agreed to this plan and set off.
Unfortunately, they were forced to leave cover to get to the boat, and the PCs were spotted just as they were beginning to get the boat into the water. Several hobgoblin bowmen advanced on the PCs and began firing. Beldan returned fire and Thorim rained down arcane hurt on the hobgoblins as Helrak and Silentstorm rowed. Soon the hobgoblins were dead, and the PCs were safe.
They rowed for the remainder of the night. Around midnight, the overcast sky cleared, and the stars came out. Goldmoon, lying in the boat attempting to rest as Helrak and Silentstorm rowed, noticed that there was something wrong with the sky. There were large swaths of nothingness where stars should be.
The two constellations known as Paladine and Takhisis were gone. What this meant, the PCs didn’t know.
The PCs set ashore several miles away, along the Haven road. They knew from previous adventures that there was a cave in the hills alongside the road that they could use for shelter and defense. The holed up for the night there.
Here ends Session 1.