Read Session 4
PART FOUR: THISTLETOP
THE ANCIENT SITE KNOWN AS THISTLETOP HAS LONG SERVED AS A DEN FOR GOBLINS. TODAY, IT SERVES AS SOMETHING MORE—THE LAIR OF A BAND OF OUTLAWS LED BY NUALIA, KNAVES AND CRIMINALS WHO HAVE RECRUITED THE GOBLINS AS THEIR INSTRUMENTS OF DESTRUCTION. IN ORDER TO SAVE SANDPOINT FROM THESE GOBLINS, A JOURNEY TO THISTLETOP MUST EVENTUALLY BE UNDERTAKEN—BUT THE LOST COAST’S NEW HEROES SHOULD TAKE CARE TO ENSURE THEY ARE PREPARED FOR THIS STAGE OF THE ADVENTURE. GOBLINS ARE THE LEAST OF THE DANGERS THAT LURK IN AND BELOW THISTLETOP.
The party of heroes followed the clues in Tsuto’s notes to the Lost Coast Road east. They reached the Thistle River crossing relatively quickly—only a 6-mile journey (2 hours by foot). Thistletop is located on the Varisian coast—approaching by land is difficult since the tangles of Nettlewood are in the way. A thorough check revealed a route through the woods and in fact, Zowen came across one of several narrow goblin trails that eventually leading next to patches of poisonous plants, either stinging nettles or goblinberry patch. She safely led the team around and through these dangers to a path leading into the tangles.
Thistletop is a curiously round island about 60 feet off shore, connected to the mainland by a rope bridge. The island had an unusual genesis—it was once the head of one of Karzoug’s sentinel statues that stood upon the ridge of land called the Rasp before the nation of Bakrakhan became the Varisian Gulf. The statue has long since crumbled and become overgrown by the Nettlewood, but the head escaped such obscurement by landing in the surf.
The briars and thistles that grow so rampantly in Nettlewood are even more dense and tangled here, close to the shore. Although not quite dense enough to block the sound of waves crashing on the unseen shores to the west, the undergrowth is certainly thick enough to block sight and access to the coast. Few trees grow this close to the edge of the sea, but the briars themselves often reach heights to rival them; here, the patch is nearly twenty feet high.
A four-foot-high tunnel winds through the dense briars and nettles. The floor is hard-packed earth, with patches of wiry plants growing stubbornly here and there. The team entered and eventually found their way to a thistle tunnel that opened into a large cavelike chamber. Above, the thorny canopy grows thin enough that tiny slivers of the sky above can be seen, while below, the ground consists of trampled dirt. To the west, the distant sound of sloshing waves echoes up from a hole.
This thirty-foot-diameter, low-ceilinged chamber stinks of smoke. A shallow fire pit smolders in the center of the floor, while nine tangled reed-and-leaf nests line the walls. The heroes had a battle with many goblin guards and soon a firepelt cougar leaped at them with tooth and claw. Gogmurt the goblin druid also leaped into the fray and tried to destroy the “longshanks”. Crom was severely injured, but the heroes won and Patronicus soon healed Crom’s wounds.
The heroes had one prisoner goblin who sobbed for mercy. He knows that the heroes are here for what the goblins did to Sandpoint, and tries to justify the assault by saying it was all the longshank’s fault before clapping a hand over his mouth when he realizes he probably just insulted his captors.
He told them his name is Birdcruncher and he knows that Warchief Ripnugget has become enthralled with several taller folk of late; in particular a “very angry woman with white hair and weird eyes and a torn-up belly” whom he suspects Ripnugget has become infatuated with. The chieftain has certainly been placing a lot of trust in this strange woman’s advice—it was at her urging that the assault on Sandpoint took place. He says that even the druid Gogmurt has distanced himself from the chieftain and these new allies, not wanting to be tainted by her bad ideas. He does know that she has four dangerous allies of her own: a brutish bugbear mercenary named Bruthazmus who lived for many years in a hut on the northeastern side of Nettlewood, a quiet human man who wears lots of metal armor, a dark-skinned violent human woman who’s used fire to scorch several goblins who got too close to her, and a male half-elf who seems too happy all the time and who sometimes plays the flute. He says that he suspects that the half-elf and the angry woman with the torn-up belly are lovers, because he’s seen them “going at it like donkey rats” in the woods at times. He woefully mutters that this news only made Chief Ripnugget angrier when the druid tried to use it in an attempt to win back his chieftain’s favor. “Worse than a harpy, that one!” The goblin spits. Then he quickly clarifies his accusation: “The woman. Not Chief Ripnugget. Don’t tell him I called her a harpy!”
He begged the heroes not to hurt any more goblins, pointing out that the angry lady and her friends are the real troublemakers. If they can get into Ripnugget’s fort to the north and get rid of them, Birdcruncher promised that no goblin will ever bother Sandpoint again.
The group agreed and he showed them to the rope bridge that leads across an 80foot deep crevasse to the island plateau island of Thistletop fort. At that point Patronicus told Crom to make the goblin fly, and Crom stepped forward with a kick, launching the goblin clear over the rope bridge to fall out of site off the cliff.
The group crossed the bridge to find a patrol of goblins riding goblin dogs. As they fought them and second group of commando goblins (well trained and armored) exited the fort. After a heated battle the heroes entered the fort and found War Chief Rippnuggets chamber. He was prepared and while riding his lizard mount he attacked.
The battle was intense, but in the end the heroes prevailed once again, but still had not found Nualia, Tsuto’s love. They had found a secret staircase that lead to a lower level apparently dung into the plateau’s rock bed. They also found Rippnuggets secret treasure that included a strange scimitar with its blade made of pure magical ice. Veoric had heard a tale of such a blade in the hands of an old merchant adventure who had gone missing some months before. The blades name was Frostbite.