The party makes its' way back through the woods, along paths that we know back towards Cliffhaven and we let ourselves be known as they come into the general vacinity of town. The gnomes soon find us and escort us down to see Grimalkin who seems both happy and a bit suprised to see us arrive. Merrin relates to him what we learned about the valley, the effects of what we saw as the corruption and a blow by blow accounting of what we saw, found and noticed in the Valley.
Grimalkin shares some knowledge about the Fey, the creatures called Hags and redcaps and seems to be additionally concerned with what we saw in the sky with the wild hunt. Oh yes, before we had entered the valley, we saw what our gnomish guide referred to as 'the wild hunt' being played out in the sky, we avoided detection by use of magic but it seemed to be exceptionally worrysome to our ranger guide.
The party shows Grimalkin the set of gnomish plate armor which we found in the Hags lair and he identifies it and sighs when he sees it. He told us that "It belonged to a gnomish Paladin named "forgetname" that went to explore the swamp. We had feared the worst when he didn't return and he seemed troubled by this." The plate mail was exceptionally nice and well made and we decided to return it to the gnomes,,,,,,, for free. This act, or investment in the future as Merrick chose to convince himself bought favor and trust with the leadership of the gnomish community and we were then given a proper feast and treated with a level of trust and respect. We traded with them while we waited to move on and managed to sell of several items which would be difficult to move in the colony.
The gnomes of Cliffhaven have excellent skills with gemcutting, woodworking and forging but they let us know that they have limited access to metals and leathers and expressed interest in trading. They also made it very clear to us that their survival was tied to their ability to remain hidden and based on our willingness to stand by our word to Stump and our respect for their fallen Paladin they were willing or able to share some things with us. They told us of the goblin markets but really didn't say that much else on the subject other than make a vague offer to show us where they were.
Grimalkin also let us know about several of the ruins in the area during our discussions. He highlighted us to the ones that lie along the mountains to the south as well as what he knew about the standing stones ot the north east. The evening ended with us well fed, rested and thinking about grandious plans to explore ruins and venture south.
When morning came the party was approached about the prospect of taking the underway to another gnomish village and providing escort to a gnome making that journey with his family. Not having heard any of this, we were intrigued and while some of us had heard about the underground tunnels we had no idea that they existed here.
At the appointed and agreed upon hour we met with the migrating gnome and saw him activate some form of gnomish guiding magic at a stump in the ground. The tree base opened and we made our way into a set of underground tunnels. The gnomish magic illuminated our path along an underground riverbank that leads between the two villages. Travelling underground was safe and quick with a guide and the magic to help us.
As we approached the other gnomish village and a fork in the road we became aware of something lurking at the fork ahead. We scouted what was ahead of us and the gnome nervously let us know that it looked like there were some hobgoblins camped out at the fork. After a quick discussion it was decided that would try to approach them without hostility and the gnome called out to them in an odd language, after a start they responded and informed him to come to their camp. Merrin and he went to their camp and saw a collection of four hobgoblins hunched around a fire. They offered tea in welcome and distrust.
Merrin tried speaking to them in dwarven and their leader suprisedly was able to converse in that tongue. They spoke at pretty good length and had a lengthy bargaining session. The Hobgoblins are evidently very strong, danger loving, nearly psychotic traders who love to trade in rare and dangerous things. Merrin was able to spark a good deal with them and purchase drugs and spices from them as well as a few minor magical items. The gnome seemed impressed with the exchange and we continued on up to the new gnomish village where we drpped off our new friends and took rest for the day before heading back to Ebonheart Lake and the town of sanctuary to gather ourselves and our bearings.