Choosing to rest in the “Rat Chamber”, the group curled-up and went to sleep. A short time later, Stew-Guard awoke to the sound of snuffling at the hole leading outside, and after waking his companions, a large ape crawled through the hole, bearing a large tree limb like a weapon. It snuffled at the party, and they threw it a dead rat… squarely in its face (a 20!). Somewhat taken aback, it grabbed up the rat corpse, and tore a chunk from it, eyeing the group suspiciously. Fodder tossed one from his sack, and also squarely hit it in the face (another 20!). Again somewhat taken aback, the creature scooped up the new corpse, and slipped back outside and away from the goblin intruders.
Meanwhile, passing nearby outside, Cheeser happened to notice the ape slip away, followed by several wheezy goblin cheers. Intrigued, he and his pair of Goblin Dogs approached and slipped into the same hole recently visited by the ape. He introduced himself, and offered to cook food for them, introducing the group to “Rat-Tar-Tar”; proving how you prepared things was all in the spices. Everyone bedded down once more for a daylight nap.
About an hour later, Stew-Guard awoke, again, to the sound of hobgoblin voice approaching the main entrance to the room. Rousing his companions, they heard a gruff hobgoblin demand that a goblin enter the room and get him “supper”. The group demanded the intruders leave, and the hobgoblin entered, his goblin “slave” cowering behind him, and growled at the group to find him some fresh rat. The group surrounded him quickly and beat him senseless, turning on the goblin when he tried to run. Capturing the goblin, one Snoori, they stripped the fallen hobgoblin of equipment and found both he and the goblin to be well-armed with iron weapons of a dwarvish nature, very well paid in coin (silver and gold for the hobgoblin, copper for the goblin), and bearing large red hand-prints on their breastplates and shields. The mark of a “secret” army gathering in the Ruins; the Band of the Red Hand. Taking Snoori with them, they fled the Ruins, even though it was still day, and made their careful way through the rough terrain to the safety of the Steam Caves.
Camping at the caves, the group decided to take a day’s rest to recover from their fight with the hobgoblin. Everyone told Cheeser to stop picking at the moss, since it was a “holy” place… he did not seem convinced. Cheeser took the time to try and track a deer, though he counldn’t get close enough to take it. Fodder caught a rabbit with a snare, and Cheeser showed his prowess once more by steam cooking the rabbit (stuffed with Cave Moss!), and providing a feast for his companions.
The next evening, the group made fast time down the hills to the Goblinwater, west to Blackthorn Lake_, and then south to the cave of The Fire Spear Tribe. They returned to the tribe in victory, and related their exploits to the tribe, showing-off their tokens of respect (_Stew-Gaurd and Y&B their rat cloaks, Stew-Guard’s captured hobgoblin shield, Knows-It‘s Giant Bee stinger, and all the food and other goods they brought with them). The tribe took them before their leader, Mogur Hrap, and presented them, awaiting his decision. He appeared wiht much fan-fare, wielding the tribe’s holly token, The Fire Spear. After hearing their tales of victory again, he announced a feast from the raider’s bounty, and named them… the “Rat Stingers”!. A huge feast ensued. Snoori was taken into the Mogur’s chambers with the Mogur’s bodyguards, and was never seen again…
During the feast, the new Rat Stingers were granted a spot to claim in the caves for themselves. They took an eastern wall of the main commons, finding a collection of three lamp oil flasks, a 60’ coil of rope and more than a dozen empty 5-gallon kegs (formerly holding precious fish-head beer). Cheeser started to prepare for making a batch of “fish-cheese”, sking around among the tribe for their lost Fish-head beer recipe, but alas, no one knew it.
Also during the feast, they got into a word-feud with a rival hunter group (one of the tribe’s 6 such groups, inclusing the PCs), called the Rock Clubbers. They started calling the PCs, the Rat Stinkers, while the PCs called them the Rock Dumbers. Eventually, the group identified that the Rock Clubbers were talking amongst themselves and trying to look at something without the tribe noticing. Eventually offering a handful of shiny rocks failed, but Knows-It offered the 30 cp taken from Snoori, and they accepted, trading the copper for their piece of parchment. It was revealed to be a “Wanted” poster, which Stew-Guard read. Seems that it was offering adventurers a bounty of 10 sp for each goblin head brought to the village of Ardeche; south-west of The Cauldron. The group decided to conduct a raid on the village, planting evidence of other goblins, hopefully leading any adventurers to another tribe…
The next evening, the Rat Stingers headed back the way they had travelled, intending to find some Red Band equipment to use as bait, when they came across a “Shambly”… that attacked them. It proved to be a tough foe, paralyzing most of the group, though eventually Y&B was able to drag fallen goblins to safety enough for Cheeser to awaken the nature spirits of the meadows, entangle the Ghoul long enough to pepper it with slings. Tucked among its rotted robes, Fodder found a valuable ivory tube filled with two papery objects that only Knows-It could decipher. They were revealed to be a Scroll of Pro. Vs. Possession, and a multi-spell wizard’s scroll, with some moderate and high level spells written therein. Having been battered (and nearly slain!), the group returned to their caves, and sought rest for the next two days.
As night approached, a pair of worn-out goblin warriors from the Head Hunter tribe arrived. They related a gruesome tale of how they had been out hunting, and upon return to their caves, found every goblin within slaughtered by adventurers. All their heads had been removed, and they found some off, hob-nailed boot tracks (the usual spoor of a dwarf!) The pair were given honorary status in the tribe and formed a small (if still valuable) hunting group (calling themselves, the “Head Hunters”) within the tribe.