Caroline and Haji grow concerned when Shalelu, Kaitlinn, Rogar and the Traveler do not return that evening, and so set out to see the state of things at Thistletop. Arriving just as dusk settles, they overhear happy Birdcruncher Goblins bragging about how, with the Thistletop Goblins all wiped out, they’ll be important now, and get Thistletop all to themselve. Hustling onward they find scenes of carnage, an easy trail to follow, of Goblin and Goblin Dog carcasses demonstrating where their friends had passed. They pause briefly at Traveler’s grave before heading downstairs.
A quick search of rooms off of the main Hall shows the brutal massacre of Goblin women and children, which turns Caroline’s stomach. While explorine a side hallway, she stumbles into a room full of cells, in which Rogar, Shalelu, Kaitlinn, and Khoren, a friend of Ameiko’s missing since the Goblin raid during the Swallowtail Festival. She quickly jumps back however, as the jailer, a handsome man in banded mail swiftly draws his Bastard Sword and Shield and gives pursuit! Seeing rescue at hand Rogar manages to break open his cell, but is quickly dropped by the warrior when he attempts to seize his blade. As Coraline, Haji and his two-headed Dog-beast circle around the swordsman, the enemy makes a fatal mistake, turning his back to Kaitlinn’s cell, who stabs through her bars with a dagger hidden up her sleeve that hadn’t been found when she’d been captured, cutting deep into his right arm and forcing him to drop his weapon (and causing him to loose consciousness as well).
After taking his keys and setting the rest free, the Heroes strip him of his weapons and are brought up to speed on what had put their allies in this predicament. Kaitlinn had been knocked over the head while fleeing the Temple, while Shalelu had managed to drop one of the deadly Yith Hounds before falling to the other – her injuries have left her hobbled, though she can still shoot a bow. Khoren makes his introductions: he is another old friend of Amieko’s who had spotted Tsuto in the confusion of the raid, and had gotten catured when he tried to apprehend him – he would have been sacrificed to Lamashtu tonight if the gang hadn’t rescued him. Finally, they wake their prisoner, who proves to be quite forthcoming with information, as he is a mercenary at the end of his rope on a job he sees as going nowhere fast.
His name is Orik Vancaskerkin (of the Freeport Vancaskerkins), and he is a man in a pickle. On the run from what counts for law in Freeport for murder from getting mixed up with an Alchemist and a Tiefling Prostitute, he fled to Magnamar, where he took a job as Nualia’s bodyguard, only to find himself working with Goblins and a sleazy Bugbear, plotting to wipe out Sandpoint (which he actually kinda liked, what little he’s seen of it), and listening to the horrible howls coming from that godforsaken temple. He was thinking of skipping out when the gang showed up and bushwhacked him (jailer wasn’t even in his job description). He then adds that if they set him free, let him keep his stuff, and let bygones be bygones, he’ll happily help them deal with the crazy woman and her collection of monsters and misfits. This they agree to, and soon he is re-equipped and ready to go (as they all are, once they have had a moment to heal-up). He adds only one request – that if they can let her live, he’d like to see if he can turn Lyrie (the Wizard Anthropologist they’d jumped earlier) to their side – she’s a little confused, wrapped up in an infatuation over Tsuto, but he thinks he can break through to her, given the chance.
With Orik in the lead, they head quickly back to the war-room, but find the way to the scholar’s study and the stairs down blocked from the inside. Rogar, with a little help from his friends, breaks open the door, only to find Lyrie rearmed and ready, backed up by Tsuto Kaijitsu and Bruthazmus the Bugbear, who promptly bathes them all in flame before stepping behind the others. While Bruthazmus and Shalelu engage in some arrow-snipping (him using his elf-bane arrows to no small affect), Tsuto attempts to hold them off at the door with a surprise dash in, but is badly hurt in short order and flees, leaving the fight to his allies, who are swiftly overwhelmed. Bruthazmus falls under enemy blades, and Shalelu takes great delight cutting off the head of her old rival, while Lyrie is subdued and again stripped of her gear, and carried off by Orik to be locked up in the Prison wing until their return. Meanwhile the rest of the gang sprints down the stairs after the fleeing Tsuto…