The party continued on to the fort and then continued its role as bounty hunters, killing a few more goblins and a gargoyle. Jarik’s petrified cat Tom went onto a shelf until he saved enough bread to pay the local priest to return him to his fleshy form. Sairi’s VD went away (or at least became inactive). The party encountered a group of hill giants who hired them to retrieve a sacred book (350 lbs. in weight) from some goblins who had stolen it. Down we went into the tunnels, and ran into a goblin lair. After killing six goblins and 2 of their giant lizards, we retreated and encountered two goblins setting up an ambush. Off they ran, one of them missing his footing and plummeting into a 95′ pit he was leading us into. The other scrambled down another pit lined with handholds. Bezell, ever impetuous, scrambled down the pit after him and dropped the final six feet into a goblin lair with six exits and at least twice as many goblins. The rest of the party followed, except for Jarik who stayed at the top of the pit and tried (quite unsuccessfully) to shoot targets of opportunity. As usual, Hanori cut a wide swath and Bezell and Bob also smashed quite a few. Sairi stayed alive and Arizha took most of the critical hits for the party (thanks Arizha!). Surprisingly, the party proved successful and drove off the goblins after slaying nine. Jarik then descended and found the holy book, which after a detect magic he deemed perfectly safe to open. Thankfully, Arizha and Sairi disagreed with his diagnosis and a more cautious appraisal revealed a goblin smashed into the wall, apparently after touching the tome. So, another head for the bounty hunters and much increased reluctance to get anywhere near the book. Hanori proved to be glowing under the Detect Magic, apparently from some effect from the book, so the party shoved her closer. After some delay, she touched the book and a hill giant appeared and declared her “fit” and the rest “unfit” in Oeridian. Since she didn’t speak Oeridian, Sairi and Jarik explained to her and the party assigned her the task of pulling the weighty volume from the caverns. The party then searched the muck and found a variety of treasure, including a masterwork thieve’s tools, masterwork short sword, masterwork dagger and more vulgar loot, namely cash. Jarik contracted a roto-virus in his search, which made its appearance two days later in the tavern’s outhouse.
There was further adventure on the way home. The party confronted an ambush by gnolls in a narrow canyon. After deciding to retreat, regain spells, and advance on the following day, their decision was changed by the appearance of three hyenadons. The party then decided to charge on through, past 4 expert gnoll archers, and two gnolls in chainmail with glaives hiding in the dirt in the center of the road. Jarik was on the fastest horse, but allowed Bezell and Hanori the honor of leading the pack through the defile. As a result, both Bezell and Hanori had their warhorses killed by glaives set for their charge, but the rest of the party slowed and picked up Bezell, Hanori, and Arizha (who had been riding with Hanori) before continuing their flight to the town.
Meanwhile, on the hill, Lautrec, son of a landed knight of Sterich, observed the ambush and then continued further north to another pass of which he knew. There he surprised the gnollish scout taking a dump. The scout foolishly attacked the mounted knight, and paid the full penalty. Lautrec later joined his old colleague Bezell in the fort, and inquired of the party, desiring to join. He was less than impressed, and even managed somehow to tick off the witch, who started looking through her collection of curses. Jarik enjoyed this briefly and then made another of his frequent visits to the euphemism.