Trouble at Zella’s Vineyard
Porkins, Pappy, Clinton, and the elderly halfling wizard known as Cotton Cornpiper are traveling overland to Zella’s Vineyard, having heard about a warband of hobgoblins headed to the halfling lands via a pigeon from the recon tower at Alta Toon.
Avoiding the roads to skirt trouble from Vermese soldiers, the party meets a lone, middle aged knight returning to his keep from the siege at Tyn City. He warns the Alta Toon, the ghost town that lies in the path of the main road to the vineyard, while guarded by Tyrese soldiers during times of peace, may be a home to bandits or worse.
The party arrives at the foothills of Alta Toon but decides to skirt around the town to the south, along the rocky beaches, to make their way to the Greyribbon river and the halfling lands. The pony Jerrod slips on the rocks and drops Porkins, as a group of hobgoblins attack. Jendril quickly incapacitates the archers with a glitterdust spell while the others are taken out in melee combat. While searching the hobs, Porkins notes that they are particularly well armored and uniformed for hobgoblins, and carry quite a bit of gold. He also notices that the dead hobs are covered in sickly boils- just in time for the hobs to re-animate as zombies and attack.
After the strange encounter, the party proceeds to the Greyribbon, losing precious time. The covered Browbridge, which serves as the main entry to the halfling lands, has been burnt to the ground. The party finds passage downstream at a ferry, and is attacked by another zombie hob that tries to climb aboard the raft, but Cotton backs his pony up pushing the zombie into the river where a swimming Cinnamon dispatches it.
On the main road to Peckton, the main village, a fog sets in. As they approach the West Berm which demarcates the main halfling village, halfling guards greet the adventurers, recognizing Porkins. From out of the fog, another group of zombies attacks, but Clinton is able to thinking the fog with a spell and the party is ushered through the town gates. A friend of Porkins leads the party to the town square as the guards hustle to kill the zombies.
At the square, it is learned that the Sheriff of Zella’s Vineyard, Cole Copperpot (also Porkin’s cousin) has nearly led the militia to ruin by sending the mobilized militia members out to fight the hobs a few at a time when the alarm was sounded at the river, instead of mustering a full fighting force. His deputy, Jery, finally countermanded Cole’s order and mustered a group of thirty militia to search for the hobs and surprised them hours ago, capturing six and locking them up in the halfling armory. A human woman, in her 20s wearing a pea coat, is spotted hovering near the crowd.
At this point, the alarm sounds at the south gate, where the guards point to a new threat- Sahuagin raiders from the ocean have attacked guards at the South Berm.
The party stops at Cotton’s house to retrieve his potion cache before proceeding to the armory. There, the party learns that the halflings hurriedly disarmed the hobgoblins and threw them in jail, still wearing there armor, before the alarm rang at the South Berm. Jentril charms a captured hobgoblin sargent named Right Hand, who divulges that they were tasked with finding a key for a witch. Before he can reveal more, the hobgoblin Sturmler kills him with a dagger smuggled in under his armor.
Cole throws his weight around, insisting he has the situation under control. The party proceeds back the the square to talk to Jery and look for the human woman, Captain Bonnie. Jery indicates that Cole has been paying the Captain to stay in the village on retainer in case her boat is needed for the last few weeks. The party returns to the village, where Cole says he has just paid Bonnie to transport the captured hobgoblins to Tyn City, where the humans can deal with them.
Tracking the hobgoblins and Bonnie into the night, the trail leads to a marsh, where the tracks are lost but the hobs can be heard stomping through the shallow water. The party follows behind and witnesses the five hobgoblins shoving Bonnie towards Hag Hook. The party attacks the hobs, and soon a group of Sahuagin join the attack, attempting to kill both the hobs and the party. The sea-devils and two of the hobs are killed, but Sturmler runs off with the captain. The party quickly tracks him down and he and another are brought to their knees with a heat metal spell, while Captain Bonnie finishes off the remaining hobgoblin.
While regrouping, a very sick hobgoblin stumbles from the fog. Therok offers to explain what is happening for assistance. It seems that the hobgiblin band was tasked with working for a dark wizard named Thraxus, who sailed with the war band to find the bling sea hag Loya Jurga. Thraxus cured her blindness and offered to release her sisters who were imprisoned by the wizard Bemfirr hundreds of years ago. The witch agreed if the hobgoblins would kneel and swear to serve her in life, or serve her in death. Thraxus paid the hobgoblins a good deal of money to humor the witch, but it was only much later that they realized they had been cursed. The curse became apparent at the siege of Tyn City. Sturmler accosted Thraxus while sleeping and learned that they were cursed until they fulfilled their mission to Loya Jurga. The war band left the siege and went to find the “key” at Zella’s Vineyard where, according to Thraxus, “the key is on the she-captain”.
It is then that Captain Bonnie shows the party her arms, which are covered with tattooes. The tattooes are actually a magical protection spell, like a scroll written on her skin, which she has no recollection of receiving. Bonnie thanks the party for their help but says she is proceeding to a hidden sea cave where her boat, the Sloop Jombi, is moored with her half-orc first mate. The party agrees to follow until they can think of a new plan.
At the sea cave, the party boards the boat and finds the Grudge unscathed, but a ghast has followed the party and climbed the anchor line to attack. Quickly dispatched, Bonnie realizes that Loya Jurga won’t stop her assault until she is confronted, and sails into the night fog to meet her destiny. An evil vulture sends a bad omen over the boat as an ancient galley sails through the goh. Loya Jurga, riding a galley oared by skeletons and wearing an evil coral crown, rams the Sloop Jombi and a nasty fight ensues. Sahuagin join the battle from the sea as skeletons attempt to board the Sloop. Eventually, the party is able to destroy the skeletons and dispatch Loya Jurga, who falls overboard as her boat sinks into the sea.