We rejoin our adventurers, Peribold and Hornsby, at a moment of great peril—a sudden attack by two goblin warriors, a goblin shaman and a large hobgoblin warrior wielding an axe and a crude shield. The vicious creatures take the initiative. The goblin shaman charges onto the road and evokes a gout of goblinfire that strikes Hornsby squarely and threatens to end the fight as quickly as it started. The two goblin warriors rush out to overwhelm Hornsby. The hobgoblin, slower, makes his way toward the fray but does not yet display an obvious preference of victim.
Sensing how dire their situation has become, both mages cast powerful Armor spells to buy them time. They even go so far as to tap the energy reserves in their rings. The battle is engaged when a shout from down the road heralds the sprinting approach of a dusty, flint-jawed warrior. The hobgoblin lets out a roar of challenge and runs to meet the interloper, who in turn draws an exquisite, though battle-worn greatsword from his back. Seconds later they clash. The hobgoblin’s axe is true, but at the last moment its arc is interrupted as the shield on the warrior’s back leaps to life and intercedes. Dancing around the warrior and protecting him from the axe, the shield moves with a magical life. To complement this magical defense, an aura of blames bursts up around the blade of the greatsword. With a seasoned calm, the strange warrior dispatches the shrieking hobgoblin in a few quick strokes.
Meanwhile, Peribold and Hornsby battle fiercely with the goblins. The shaman strikes Peribold with two solid blasts , leaving him dazed and near collapse. However, the shaman is similarly weakened by the magical exertion and can summon no more flame. The battle quickly becomes a route as Hornsby fells one of the goblin warriors and Peribold defeats the shaman. The last goblin sprints for the woods, but Hornsby dispatches him with a bolt of lightning set square in his fleeing back.
Introductions are made. The warrior shares that his name is Harkness Beringer. He lives by hunting down goblinkind and trading in their toes for a small bounty, as his father did before him. His heirloom weapons are known as Roughshod the greatsword and Pellmell the dancing shield, and he speaks of them with obvious fondness. A quick deal is reached by which the goblin bounty can be split, to which Peribold and Hornsby, previously unaware that a bounty even existed, quickly agree to. The trio decide to travel the rest of the way back to Wood-and-sea together. On the way, Harkness shares that his current task is the hunting of an ogre warrior, a massive beast whose bounty would allow him to live comfortably for some time. However, unlike his father he is terrible at tracking and has lost the scent several times.
Finally, after much danger and distraction, the city stands before them. With Harkness’ help, they talk their way past the city watchmen with ease. Before departing, he tells them how to collect on the bounties, and suggests that, when their duties are addressed they might visit him at the tavern he calls his home. They promise to do so. All that remains is to make their way to the home of Hornsby’s Uncle Jaffrey.
Uncle Jaffrey’s manservant greets the scholars at the door and leads them into the living room with great excitement. Moments later, Jaffrey comes charging into the room and hugs Hornsby and Peribold with obvious delight. There is a rush of excitement and discussion, during which Hornsby carefully avoids mentioning their business at the Gilt-hearth estate, but which also reveals that Jaffrey and some fellow retirees have been attending sessions with a magical tutor. This has produced nothing more impressive than simple Light spells and the like, but Jaffrey humbly invites the graduates to attend a session and meet his tutor Marcellus. They agree and happily retire for the night, feeling a degree of safety almost unremembered.