The day began with Holmes, the ratfolk investigator, spotting a request for The Guild posted to a message board outside the guildhouse bunking area. It seemed simple enough, 150gp to loosely map a swampy area for a local cartographer. The week journey outside of Absalom would take him to the north and east at the edge of the mountains. He gathered Jalal, the bardic dancer, and the pair agreed to take Sampson and his mean sheep LuLu to help with the wilderness exploration and mapping. They met with the cartographer, Filligo Mahd, to collect supplies he offered, a camel (Castro) as a pack animal and to iron out the details of the request. They quickly learned why the request seemed to be almost discarded and posted outside the bunking area. The man was difficult to deal with and tight of purse. He had definitely come to The Guild before. Jalal bargained them into extra rations supplied to cover the journey but not a coin more in payment. With nothing better to do, they set out to start some mapping!
The journey to reach the swamp, known as the Damphrat, led them through a rocky, cliff-like pass affectionately referred to as the Shatten Enscarpment. The ledges and crumbling walkways were unsafe but they managed. Unfortunately, none of them seemed to know anything about the pass or the swamp and they didn’t bother to gather information before heading out of the city. During their night, Holmes was surprised by the stealth of a large saber-toothed tiger that sneaked in and grabbed the sleeping Jalal, ready to slink away for a quick meal. If not for the appearance of an equally disturbing sight, the bard would have been dinner. A two-foot tall child’s doll, complete with white dress, bonnet, pigtails and tiny red shoes, sprang from the darkness and stabbed the great cat with its katana. The surprise attack startled the animal, drawing a swat that nearly tore the wooden doll’s face off, but also succeeded in getting it to drop Jalal. Holmes added a couple of crossbow bolts to the fray and Sampson roused with Lulu charging in with a loud BAAAA! The sudden arrival of numbers scared the cat away. The doll introduced itself as Jerro, a protector searching for the girl it was set to guard. Jerro explained that she was kidnapped by bandits who were working with slaving pirates and goblins. Holmes, still freaked out by the talking wooden doll with a katana, dismissed this random rescue mission in favor of the payment assured by a map of the area. Jalal and Sampson seemed slightly more inclined towards helping but also agreed that they had accepted a mission for The Guild first. Jerro the doll decided to join them, hoping to get their aid as they finished with their mapping task. The doll spoke with a husky whisper and though it carried the painted face of a smile, held little to no emotion. It told them the girl, Evanna, was being held in a dilapidated tower a day’s journey deeper into the swamp.
The party continued their mapping , with Sampson doing a surprisingly good job. But the days passed slowly as they went. Jerro grew restless, gently guiding the shepherd’s mapping towards the location of the tower. They scoped out a hot water geyser and met with a tribe of red-skinned kobalds during the process. Later, the leader of the kobalds arrived at their camp showing Jalal a bag of blue kobald heads and offering a large bag of coins in exchange (they pieced together that he wanted them to kill the blue kobalds for the money – the best translation they could get since no one spoke draconic). Eventually, they came upon the tower Jerro told them about. The 60 foot structure was old and falling apart with a poorly fenced compound surrounding it plus two tents and an old well. They watched and waited until the human and orc bandits plus the human pirates and a handful of goblins left the area. They then devised a hasty plan to slip inside and find the missing girl. They left Sampson to watch the animals at camp and Holmes, Jalal, and Jerro slipped through a hole in the wall and killed one goblin on guard. Jalal waited outside while the small members searched inside. They slipped up the tower avoiding several floors where multiple goblins slept on pallets. They found the prisoner’s, including Evanna, a goblin merchant, and a horribly mutilated old man that screamed and babbled randomly. Trying to lead the others out while Jerro put the crazed and blinded old man out of his misery, they made a ruckus and roused the goblins. From that point on, it was total chaos as nearly 20 goblins poured forth firing arrows from the roof or swarming over them. The shaman and the mutated goblin leader came for them as well and it was a bloodbath! Everyone took a serious beating, with Sampson arriving later in a rescue charge that was less than impressive. Sampson was bloody and crying, LuLu went down, Jerro was very nearly destroyed, Holmes balanced miraculously on the edge of death through most of the fight keeping the leaders and archers occupied, and Jalal used more healing than the rest of the party combined. But somehow they managed to kill the goblin horde, rescue the girl and return with a proper map of the swamp! If they hadn’t lost the pack camel in the confusion they would have actually gotten paid for the mission, too.
They managed to get a reward for the girl’s return, a nice sum of coins for the equipment and magical sword they confiscated and then sold, and made a new friend, vouching for Jerro the disturbing little doll ninja to join The Guild.
Each character involved gained: 1,440 xp