En route to the abandoned Cigar Lake Mine , Shadrach left the party on a holy pilgrimage to be in the Seat of Law during a minor church holiday celebrating Bahamaut’s victory over the dark terrors of the Far Realm . In the outskirts of the Hickory Branch area Anivar found a family trying to escape the quarantine . They claimed that the quarantine was a cover and that the town had been taken over by hobgoblins with the aid of many human collaborators . They were taking people from their homes and performing rituals on them at an alter to Tiamat erected in the center of town – after which people did fall sick but it did not seem to be contagious . Kraye took this to be an outrageous lie , but agree to stay with them family while the party went to check out Hickory Branch .
Crow tried to sneak into a sniping position and was spotted by a lookout – who summoned reinforcements . Crow took to ground and was not discovered . Theo snuck close to another lookout and tried to stealthily take him out with magic . When this failed and he was discovered he was presumed to be a villager trying to sneak away and was forced back to his “home” where he proceeded to terrify the already frightened family cowering within . Next Max approached the town with Crow , Ace & Renwald watching from hiding . He was welcomed as a healer coming to aid with battling the sickness at which point Ace sprung from hiding and shot one of the welcome party in the stomach . Following suit , Renwald and Crow also peppered the welcome party with arrows .
The badly injured men hustled Max to safety while their fellows (skilled unarmed fighters) turned to face the threat of Ace , Crow & Renwald . Max and the injured men took cover in the house where Theo was and which point Theo and Max launched a sneak attack and slaughtered them both . Outside two of the fighters were taken down by Crow and the third took up a defensive posture throwing poisoned shurikens and buying time as archers reinforced his position . A badly injured Renwald fled . Crow continued to wrangle with the last unarmed fighter as Ace was taken down by a barrage of arrows . The terrified family with Theo and Max made a break for it and was cut down by a volley of arrows well . Using a table for cover Max reached Ace and healed him as Theo momentarily distracted the archers with an illusion of Shadrach plummeting out of the air like a comet . Crow took down his final melee opponent and was injured by an arrow attack . As more reinforcements continued to arrive the party fled under the cover of an obscuring mist , taking a few more arrow hits .
Kraye and his crew didn’t know exactly what to make of this , and spent a few days watching the town from afar while the party recuperated and spent some quality time with the violent felons that the other constables had captured . Maramus was able to confirm that a few times in the dead of night they had seen hobgoblins in the town and they seemed to be giving orders to the armed humans maintaining the quarantine . Armed with this information Kraye and the party headed for Dockalong . The local government was informed of the situation . Theo convinced Kraye not to continue on with his plan of selling the prisoners into slavery and the two groups parted on good terms .
A significant disagreement arose about what to do with the prisoners . Ace favoring secular law , Max and Theo wanting bloody slaughter . Max found three priests willing to sign death warrants for the criminals on spec and Theo expended considerable time and effort making sure the criminals would be massacred in exactly the way he wanted as Ace’s pleas for some kind of sanity fell on deaf ears . All eleven men were put to death and Ace resigned his commission in disgust whereupon Crow was heard to remark that being a constable was for “retards” in any event .
The party continued on to Latona to tie a few loose ends – finding that Anders did indeed return to Oakhurst to marry the girl he impregnated and that Oakhurst has since been abandoned as it was being terrorized by seemingly supernatural killing force that was strangling people in their beds . Renwald speculated that it might have been an animated severed hand that had claimed enough lives to become a druj – a powerful undead spirit of malice . In Latona they went to see a “werewolf” in a crow cage . Max was able to speak to him in High Celestial and he claimed to be a traveler from the far south who had come north exploring . A priest was fetched who could also speak High Celestial but that parley fell apart when the wolfman reacted poorly to the idea of Menoth having been mortal . Crow started wildly attacking the cage , frightening the wits out of the wolfman as Theo and Max got into a shoving contest . The operator of the freak show tried to intervene and Crow savagely beat him as Ace picked the lock to the cage and the wolfman ran for his life . Theo tried to raise a mob to go after the wolfman as Renwald asked “What the hell is happening right now ?”
Ace tried to resign again but remembered that he already had .
With tempers frayed the party decided the best thing to do was to head for Bogsbridge to begin the quest for the three keys that had previously been deemed “stupid” . On they road they overtook a large party of Thenol pit fighters who freedom had been purchased in Imir who had been organized into a mercenary company to head south to Fort Branten to hold off the alleged gnoll threat . The mercenary captain stated that some “pipehead woman” was down their blackmailing the Spicer’s guild into funding this boondoggle . Arriving back in Hickory Branch they found that the town had been pacified by the efforts of a collection of constables under the leadership of Lady Mytara who they learned also ran the “bad element” out of Nulb and had the town up as a headquarters for the southern district constabulary .
Continuing on their way towards Bogsbridge the party was approached by a hippogriff who flew them one by one to a tower on an island in the river . After springing several traps and chasing after a couple homunculi the party discovered that the owner of the tower had been possessed by a demon after trying to unlock the secrets of a magic book . They negotiated with the homunculi to come back the next day to try and help their master . The homunculi brought out their bound and chained master the next day and Max , although thwarted at first , was able to break the hold of the demon – which manifested . As the party watched on in horror the noble hippogriffs attacked the foul created and were torn limb from limb , although one managed to flee . The wizard Felzor thanked them for helping him and rewarded the group by teaching Max a few spells and giving them a matched pair of magical scimitars and a potion of heroism . Ace remarked “we’re no heroes” and tried to resign his commission again .
The next day the hippogriff returned with a giant eagle who was able to converse with the party – he said that a group of evil dwarves had set up a smelting operation near their aerie using slave labor and that the slag and fumes from said operation was harming their eggs and chicks . He asked for aid .