After a little back and forth from the mound to the river crossing (due to a shortage of rope), they headed west towards the foothills overlooking Mor. An uneventful day and a half ride brought them back to the ridge from which they observed the city months ago. Although a misty rain obscured their view of the city, little difference could be seen. Using his spyglass, Kern could still see figures on the walls of Fort Gainsay, and the smoke of cooking fires still rose from throughout the ruins. One difference, however, was the encampment of the 12th Hobgoblin Cohort outside the walls. It appeared to be deserted. Since little could be gleaned from this distance, the party headed down slope towards the city. As they came out onto level ground, a party of hobgoblins and orkin appeared to the east, headed in their direction. This group halted and moved to battle formation. But instead of attacking, one hobgoblin stepped out of the ranks and announced he was Phaz’ral, a former sergeant of the 12th Cohort, and demanded to know the party’s business. Since Phaz’ral spoke hobgoblin, Erijay was elected to represent the party, as she was the only one who could respond in that language. But only after Kern applied some of his rouge of liking to the generally aloof elf to make her a little more personable. In the discussion that followed, they learned that after the death of “He Who Walks in Metal”, most of the hobgoblins in Mor had abandoned the city and campaign. They headed west, back to the hobgoblin homeland. Except for the 12th Cohort, who had been chaffing under the incompetent hand of their commander. The hobgoblins mutinied and slew the commander and his staff, then broke into small bands that now fought for control of Mor. The bands had also started recruiting orkin to flesh out their ranks.
Kern headed back to sewer a distance, and found another grate leading into the ruins above. He found himself about a thousand feet west of the fortress. Hobgoblin sentries could be seen atop the gatehouse, so Kern slipped on his ring and looped around to the north, looking for an unguarded wall. Finding one, he silently climbed up with rope and grappling hook. Peering into the fortress, he could see a small hobgoblin patrol in the courtyard in addition to the sentries on the gatehouse. Below him was a building, with a gap between it and the wall. Kern lowered himself down into the gap, and then sneaked silently and invisibly across the courtyard to the main tower. Up the ramp to the massive double doors, he said a quick prayer to Belix , pulled the doors open a crack and slipped in. Once past a second set of doors, he found himself back in familiar spaces and quickly made his way to the basement. Here he saw their problem; a massive stone block had been placed over the floor grate. Looking for a way to move it, he found a collection of ropes and slings in one corner of the basement. He also noted a covered hole in the ceiling above. When he went back upstairs to check it out, he found the hole was covered by a large stone lid, and a block and tackle hung from the ceiling above it. And so he conceived a plan. Using the sling/block and tackle, he moved the stone lid. Then he hitched the sling to the stone block over the grate and tied the free end of the rope to a massive wooden throne on the upper level. And then shoved the throne to the edge of the hole, pushed it over the edge, and jumped in the seat. With Kern and the throne as a counterweight, the stone block lifted enough for Erijay, Darnorth and the hobgoblins to get into the tower. And not moment too soon; Phaz’rel was about to turn his restless troops on the elf and the dwarf.
Kern let the hobgoblins escape over the wall, and then joined his comrades in the courtyard. Phaz’rel’s hobgoblin had moved the battle into one of the other towers, while other hobgoblins were at work finishing off the wounded in the courtyard. Kern informed Erijay and Darnorth that the weird technologies they had come for was likely gone. But to be sure, the trio left the mopping up to the hobgoblins and reentered the main tower. Climbing to the top floor, they found that the green glowing cylinder was gone. As were all the automaton parts, and the body of “He Who Walk in Metal”. Disappointed, they did search around some more. Apart from abandoned rooms and junk, they found a room with an awful stench; it contained the decomposing corpses of 4 troglodytes. They also discovered a secret compartment in a bed headboard that contained two heavy gold and platinum chains. But the greatest find was by Erijay; a secret room behind one fireplace. In it they found a vast collection of art objects. Paintings, statues, crystal, china, silverware, etc. All old and covered in a thick layer of dust, and likely hidden here by the original inhabitants of the fortress hundreds of years before. Hearing footsteps on the stairs, they scooped up as much silverware as they could find, and each grabbed a painting before sealing the secret door again. Confronted by Phaz’rel and some of his troops, they announced they had found what they had come for. Phaz’rel looked at the paintings, muttered something in hobgoblin about how easy it would have been to conquer such fools. And then proceeded to order the party out of ‘his fortress’, and warned them never to return. Which was all the encouragement they needed. Escorted back to the wall breech, they crossed to the mainland once more. Recovering their horses, the trio prepared to head back to Westmist to see what had happened in their absence.