Southwest of Hearthglen, at the edge of the dense northern woods, one encounters the Hills of the Free Folk. Once a collection of thriving settlements for halfling kind, its peoples were long ago driven to the east by The Great Dragonflight. Now, only decades later, it has become a safe haven for kobolds and other forest dwellers, now displaced from their original haunts.
After a moment of rest on the edge of the forest, as the sun sinks into mid-afternoon, the Travelers begin to make their way southwest through the Hills of the Free Folk. After only half an hour of travel, they feel a suspicious presence- Caratticus, Blaze, and Kho Na’an soon spot two dark figures peeking out and then disappearing from the tops of the hills to their right and left. Not wanting to risk an ambush, Xenlin calls out for the creatures to show themselves- almost immediately, six kobolds appear from the surrounding hills and demand that the Travelers drop their weapons. After some unsuccessful attempts at making a peaceful solution, the kobolds charge in and the Travelers engage in combat.
In a long and arduous battle, four of the six attackers are killed, one having been knocked unconscious and the other having fled (chased by Kho Na’an). The kobold prisoner is tied up as the half-orc is unintentionally led to an entrance to the kobold tunnels. He climbs in, is greeted by a rock slung past his head, and immediately climbs back out. Xenlin rides in on the goblin horse just in time to see Kho Na’an climb out; after relaying some basic information about the barbarian’s findings, the paladin rides back to rejoin the fight.
As four of the Travelers regroup and move to return to Kho Na’an’s side, the latter individual engages Ultak, the kobold raid leader, in polite conversation about the nature of Draconic race relations. After some time (and some crazy successful diplomacy checks), it is determined that the kobold prisoner, Tulnar, will be exchanged for a captured druid girl, at which point the Travelers will go on their merry way. Ultak and another kobold bring the girl up through the tunnel; as the prisoners are exchanged, Xenlin gives the raid leader powerful advice about how his people could be successful in the world. This is followed by wise words from the half-orc scholar, which is in turn followed by a surprising speech by Caratticus (characteristic of the time before he lost his senses). Ultak agrees to consider the words of these religious peoples, tears in his eyes- even the other kobold, with no knowledge of the Travelers, seems to deeply consider these words. Thus, with nothing left to say, the kobolds return through the tunnel, and the Travelers determine to continue their journey to Hope.