March 2 - March 13, 2014
Loshdain 9th of Thaumont, 1001AC
The team is split
Inside the homestead, the battle rages on while outside, the sky continues to lighten. Though battling against overwhelming odds, the defenders of Susikyn feel that if they can just hold out for a few more moments, the day will be theirs! Each of the adventurers finds themselves in a different area of the homestead dealing with a different sort of problem.
|Draven sees several of his companions go down.|
Marcel is facing off against two Goblins who have managed to make their way into one of the second story bedrooms through the use of a ladder. Just inside the front door of the main hall, Draven has found himself face to face with the vicious Redblade leader, locked in hand to hand combat, the only thing keeping him from defeat is the divine power he has wrapped around himself like thick plate armor. Pytor and Burik are engaged with two of the leaders bodyguards nearby on the stairs to the second level while Remar rests heavily against a rail along the balcony as he fires magical bolts down into the melee below, trying to help out as best as he can. Griffin, with Ree and Bahaznic in tow, races down the stone stairs from the top of the tower, trying to get back inside to help his companions as quickly as he can!
Draven Battles the Goblin Command Unit
Out of the corner of his eye, Draven sees both Pytor and Burik take heavy sword blows and fall to the ground as he continues trading blows with the Goblin leader. He hears a shout from somewhere upstairs, one of the other homesteaders shouting out to Pytor. The Goblin chief barks an order to his bodyguards as he throws his shield up, striking Draven in the chest and forcing him backwards. The Acolyte stumbles and falls to the ground, tripping over the fallen Goblin beneath his feet. Bracing for the finishing strike from the red-painted leader, Draven is surprised to see him rush past him on his way out of the broken front door. As he quickly regains his senses, he sees the two bodyguards rushing down the stairs straight at him.
Fighting his instinct to stand up, or at least begin to get to his feet, Draven instead stays down, knowing that the homesteaders need a live healer more than they need a dead hero. He tries to turn and watch where they’re heading, and prepares to protect himself as best he can.
The two Goblin bodyguards come down the stairs at Draven. The first one takes a wild swing with his sword at the cleric as he passes. The blow hits the wall next to Draven's head. The second Goblin, however, stops at the bottom of the stairs, right in front of Draven, and gives him a hard kick while pointing his blade at him. " Get up, Human," he snarls in barely comprehensible Traldaran.
Draven tries to avoid the kick from the Goblin but is unable to get out of the way. The Goblin’s kick was strong, but between his mail and divine protection, Draven barely feels it. The Goblin continues to lean over him menacingly, pointing his sword in his direction.
“Okay, take it easy,” he says in his somewhat better Traldaran. Keeping an eye on his opponent, Draven starts to get to his feet.
The Goblin pokes his sword at Draven and barks “Drop weapons and go,” he motions toward the door.
“No, I don’t think so,” says Draven, catching his breath. “Seems there’s only the two of us here now, so I’m not nearly so inclined to follow your orders.” He hefts his club and keeps his shield interposed between them.
As the morning sunlight streams in through the cracks in the door, the Goblin growls and lunges forward, trying to grab Draven, reaching his sword arm around Draven’s torso. Draven tries to block the Goblin’s approach with his shield, but the nimble little creature manages to get his arm and sword around Draven.
The hold is a weak one, though, borne more of malice than a well thought-out attack, and Draven quickly twists away from his grasp.
|Draven battles a Goblin as the morning sunlight streams in through the cracked front door.|
“You’ll have to do better than that, friend…”
With a vicious snarl, the Goblin lashes out at Draven’s head with his sword, but he misses. The Goblin begins moving toward the front door. From above, Draven hears Remar shout, “There you are!” and sees his companion up above moving along the balcony railing trying to get a shot at the Goblin. A magical bolt of glowing purple energy streaks down from above and strikes the Goblin in the back. The bolt fizzles and the Goblin turns and barks at Remar.
Seeing his opponent distracted, Draven takes a powerful swing at the goblin, not caring where it lands. If nothing else, being distracted might make him an easier target.
The Goblin brings up his shield and blocks the blow. He starts to bring his sword up, then ducks out through the hacked up door and runs out into the yard, shielding his face from the sun with his shield. Draven hears Remar cursing from up above, “Just when I got him back in my sights!” The young wizard turns and heads back along the railing toward the windows in the front of the building.
Loud thumping can be heard from behind the door that leads to the tower and within a moment, the door opens and Griffin, followed closely by Ree and the young homesteader, Bahaznic, rush out onto the balcony overlooking the main hall.
|Marcel and Alfana face off against two Goblins|
Marcel faces off with some Goblins at the far end of the homestead...
Marcel sees Alfana take a step back and ready a short spear that was leaning against a nearby wall. The red-painted Goblins smile evilly as they brandish their short swords.
Marcel dashes for the goblin near the window and punches him such that the rim of his shield hits the throat and send it flying out the window. Meanwhile, Alfana is dealing with the other goblin while Marcel knocks the ladder away from the opening. The ladder slides sideways along the wall as Marcel hopes that it knocks other ladders in the process.
Alfana is struggling but holding her ground. Marcel leap forward and shield-punches the goblin. He forces the beast’s blade to the ground with a beat of his shield. The goblin, momentarily off balance puts all of his eggs in one basket, or rather casket as Alfana lunges forward and finishes the sorry creature.
A quick glance out the window shows some of the Goblins falling back as the morning sun begins to shine more brightly. It also shows that there are several ladders leaning up against the building further to the east and the sounds of fighting come from the next room! Alfana looks at Marcel then back to the open windows in this room. “Go, help my kin! I will secure these windows!”
|Marcel rushes to help Taras and Alfana in the next room.|
Marcel quickly moves toward the next room, another bedroom. As he steps into the dark hallway, he sees a low light pouring out from the next doorway. Shadows flicker in the light and he hears grunts and sounds of fighting. He jumps into the doorway to see Taras and his mother, Darya, locked in combat with two Goblins. A third Goblin lays on the floor by the window. A ladder can be seen leaning against the middle of the three windows. Taras is off to the left side of the room, fighting with a 2 handed axe and Darya is to the right, stuck in a corner wielding a just a knife.
Marcel runs to the goblin on the left that is harassing Taras and takes a wild-swing with his shield.
Marcel’s shield bash goes wide and the Goblin shifts position and takes a slash at his leg but misses. Taras then raises the axe over his head and swings down hard in an all out attack! The Goblin brings up his shield and and hops back out of the way of the swinging axe.
The other Goblin howls out as he stabs at Darya but somehow manages to catch the tip of his blade on the corner of the bed, forcing him to not only miss, but also causing his cheap blade to snap in two. Darya keeps her knife up in a defensive position, crouching between the end of the bed and the wall.
Marcel takes a giant leap and Dual-Attack the goblin to his left. At the same time, he yells with all of his might to startle the invaders.
Marcel’s leap startles the Goblin though not enough. The Traladaran’s shield strike looks good, but the Goblin brings his own up in time to intercept it while the stab with the spear goes wide. Taras runs around behind Marcel and takes a wild swing at the Goblin threatening his mother but misses. The weaponless Goblin turns and runs to the middle window and starts to climb down the ladder that is there while the one facing Marcel cleaves right down toward the top of Marcel’s head then steps back a bit.
As Marcel tries to avoid having his head split open, Taras and Darya both run to the window and start pushing the ladder, and the Goblin climbing down it, over. With a crash, both hit the ground. Marcel brings his shield up and steps back, easily blocking the potentially deadly blow. Marcel rushes up and closes the gap with the Gobin and throws a couple of wild swings with his weapons, striking with the shield and missing with the spear. The Goblin does not stick around any longer and bolts from the room into the hallway, running almost directly into Griffin, who was coming along from the other direction.
|Griffin, Ree and Bahaznic run down the stairs from the top of the tower.|
Griffin hurries down from the top of the tower...
Griffin pelts down the stairs as fast as he can, hoping to help his friends repel the gobbo invaders. Ree follows behind, her knife at the ready. He yells, “Stellios, get ready to open and shut that door! We’re in a hurry!”
Bahaznic stops and takes some time to secure the door at the top of the tower, just in case any attackers get on the roof and try to enter from there. Finally, Griffin reaches the door leading to the second floor balcony of the main hall. Stellios is nowhere to be seen but the door is barred and secured. He must have placed the bar and retreated to the first floor room.
The team is reunited...
Griffin unbars and pushes the heavy door open and is greeted by quite a scene down below. He sees Draven standing hear the hacked up front door. Two Goblins lay unmoving at his feet. Akaios also lays on the floor in front of the Acolyte, a pool of blood forming around him. Across the room, on the stairs, Griffin sees what looks to be Burik and Pytor, both laying still and bloodied. Griffin can hear fighting coming from somewhere further in the house and directly to his right he sees Remar flinging magic bolts out an open window and into the yard. Griffin hears Ree gasp loudly as she sees Burik laying motionless. She shoves past him and rushes toward their fallen friend.
Cursing his poor showing in the fight, Draven tosses aside shield and club, and sets to work checking on the fallen folk in the immediate vicinity.
Draven checks Akaios and sees that the man is gravely wounded. He is near death and Draven is sure that if he continues to bleed, he will surely die. Wasting no more time, the young Acolyte grasps his glowing holy symbol and calls down the power of the Church’s patron immortals, beseeching them to heal this dying man. As he finishes his prayer, he sees the flow of blood trickle then stop. He quickly moves up to the stairs, checking Pytor. He sees that the sword gash is not immediately life-threatening, but is still fairly serious. Calling on his divine patrons once again, he again speaks a prayer to stop the man’s bleeding and again it works. Before he can make it up to Burik at the top of the stairs, he sees Ree, the sullen Half-Elven girl run around the balcony and kneel down beside him. She fumbles with a small vial from her belt, unstoppers it and pours it into his mouth. Immediately some color returns to his face and Draven sees his eyes flutter open. Draven turns his attention back to Pytor and Akaios for now.
Drawing on all of his resources, Draven chants mightily over Pytor and then over Akaios, beseeching the Immortals to grant them boons, and to reward their bravery and their virtue. Healing energies flow out from his hands and wounds begin to heal.
Turning then to Burik, he attempts more of the same, only to find his requests rebuked - his hubris too great, Draven realizes he has some atonement of his own to attend to, thinking the gods might have so much free time on their hands as to want to fritter it all away on the requests of one acolyte.
Standing, he turns to face Ree. “I’m sorry I can do no more. The gods have given us back Pytor and Akaios, but your quick action already saved Burik. Perhaps that is sufficient in their eyes.” He glances over Ree, sure that she must be, once again, hurt but if she is, she does a good job of hiding it.
Griffin pauses for a second to assess the situation at the front door and quickly sees are in hand on the stairs. He then races by to where he still hears the sounds of fighting in the house. “Draven, Ree, keep an eye on that front door!”
Quickly gathering his gear, Draven takes up position near the doorway, hoping that he’s got enough pull left with the Immortals to maintain his hold protection a while longer. He peers out through the cracks in the rent door, hoping to lay eyes on any of the goblins, or any of his allies in trouble. He gulps in breaths of fresh air at the same time, hoping to refresh himself from all the past fighting.
Griffin pounds down the hallway toward the sounds of fighting. He pulls up short as a Redblade Goblin comes rushing out of a nearby door. Realizing his shield is still up in the tower (with his crossbow), he slows, closing the distance cautiously, and waits for the gobbo to try something. Sure enough, it screeches and as it stretches towards him, he slashes it across the weapon arm. The shock of metal hitting bone travels up his arm, and he pulls back startled. But no more so than the Goblin, whose eyes roll up in its head as it drops limply to the floor.
“Marcel, everyone? Any more of these bozos around? You all okay, or you need me to get Draven or your wise woman?”
Marcel dashes after the goblin to herd it towards Griffin. He waits until the goblin is sandwiched between the fighters to strike. “Griffin, my friend, what brings you here? Are they breaking?”
From the looks of it, the Goblins are retreating. The homesteaders, with the help from their new friends, managed to hold out. There are quite a few wounded and dead Goblins throughout the yard, and even a few in the building. The bright light of the morning sun is a welcome sight to all, though the brighter it gets, the more damage it reveals. Both front doors are damaged, the barn, fence and gatehouse are burnt to the ground, the garden in the northeast corner of the yard is trampled to a muddy pulp.
Many of the homesteaders are wounded, Pytor fairly seriously, though the others only bear minor wounds. As Draven is tending to their wounds and some makeshift repairs are being done to the front door, young Irina, who was gathering some supplies from the far end of the main hall, yelps and jumps back. “GOBLIN!” she cries, pointing to a dark corner next to a shelving unit.
Forgotten in the chaos of the melee, one of the Goblins had been adversely affected by Remar’s frightening mind magic and run screaming into the hall. Since he was no longer a threat, he had been forgotten about. Apparently, once the magic wore off, he realized he was trapped inside the enemies stronghold without any allies and had hidden in a dark corner.
He throws down his sword and shield and pulls back, trying to stay out of the sunlight streaming in through the front doors and upstairs windows. His green skin is painted red, just like the other Goblins encountered and is wearing the mail armor of one of the leaders bodyguards.
He hisses as others approach, “You let go, me no hurt,” he says in very broken Traladaran.
Interrogating the Prisoner
Marcel walks to the goblin with the most confidence that he can muster. He threaten to kick the goblin, but stop short of hitting. He doesn’t have to act very hard to come across as irrationally angry and dangerous, he spots something breakable in the hall and smashes it on the ground beside the goblin. He rallies whoever standing to surround it and make it feel uncomfortable. He grabs one of the fallen goblin and toss it to the worried survivor.
<In Traladaran> “WHY ARE YOU GOING AFTER THIS HOMESTEAD, AND WHY NOW?!”, he shouts at a few inches of the goblin’s face.
The Goblin does not seem intimidated by the Traladaran’s heavy handed interrogation and smirks at him, chewing something around in his mouth. “We take what want- when want, dog!” Clearly the Goblin does not comprehend that he and his side lost the confrontation at the homestead.
The word is coming in from some making preliminary scouting reports outside that the Goblins have all retreated from the area. None can be seen in the immediate vicinity.
Marcel does not kill prisoners, this is the prerogative of Kings and not of soldiers. He seeks the counsel of his comrades to decide the fate of the goblin.
Huddling with the others, Draven volunteers “This one was one of four guarding the leader of the group. He’s going to be a tougher nut to crack, but he should surely know more than he’s been willing to share. I can’t loosen his tongue any, but I can lay a compulsion on him - in the eyes of the gods, he will be unable to be false.”
Griffin watches the soldier and the priest attempt to question the surly Goblin. His head still reels with the onslaught of all that the night had wrought. Akaios and Burik, both better fighters than he, taken down. Hell, Eran was dead. Their asses handed to them by Goblins more organized and commanded than any he had ever heard of. His thoughts were dark, and, were he to be honest with himself, less than useful.
He takes a deep breath.When in doubt, learn more. Dad insisted that your brain was your best weapon, and information for it was like sharpening a blade. Griffin steps forward to Draven and Marcel.
<In Thyatian> “Marcel, first, get him tied up. Don’t want him trying to escape just yet.” He nods to the two of them. “Glad you can understand him - I can’t get more than one word out of ten. Terrible accent. But what can you expect?”
He looks the Goblin over as its limbs are bound. “It seems hard to persuade. There are some things I’d like to know while you’re talking. Like where their camp is. How many of them are there. Who coordinated the attack.” He looks at Marcel. “Why is probably not an answer it possesses. But ask anyway, I’d love to be wrong there.”
“I noticed he wasn’t very intimidated by us. But he was hiding in a corner when Irina found him. Maybe the sunlight is harmful to them. Or maybe something else scared it. I’d recommend figuring out what that is for leverage. Scare it, browbeat it, learn what you can. And then, use Draven’s Truth mojo to verify. That way you can take your time about it.”
Remar chuckles at Griffin, “Of course, Thyatian, something else scared it. It was me. I put my magic on the foul beast and turned it into a quivering idiot,” the mage relates cooly. Griffin seems to think there is a bit too much emphasis on the word Thyatian when Remar speaks, but he can’t quite figure out why, so he lets it pass.
“And when you’re done, take him to the top of the tower and throw a blanket over him. Seems a safe place to store him until we decide our next move.”
He turns to Irina and his demeanor visibly softens. He leads her away from that end of the main room towards where the wounded are being tended. “Thanks for finding that lout, my dear. Very brave of you and all, but now let’s leave the soldier and priest to their business. Maybe you can help me tend to my injured friends. I’m terribly concerned about them.”
Marcel looks at the bound body of the goblin. “You will survive this, I promise.”, he states to snuff the goblin’s hope to go fast without saying anything. He decides to use the military approach and begins trying to find ground to relate with it. He tries to draw the goblin into sharing war stories, with no real attempt to gather immediate intelligence. He tells the goblin about his horrible officers, entertaining screw-ups that only soldiers can relate to. He explains how he use to hunt goblins in the hills and how he got out of this business now. The goblin, at first reluctantly, shifts from insults to sneers to giggles as he realize that soldiers are soldiers regardless of the side they are in.
“You know, as a fellow soldier, now what I need to get from you.”, Marcel asks. “Option A: You make me happy and I let you sneak out of the camp. You can tell your gobbo friends that you escaped without being caught. Option B: You force me to get what I need the long way. You eventually crawl out of the ‘stead with the word traitor etched on your forehead just on time for your friends to find you.”
Having established this looming threat, and building on his rapport with the Goblin. Marcel keeps on talking to engage the goblin and hopefully reveal involuntarily their numbers, leaders, motivations, locations and future plans.
Marcel’s tact seems to work pretty well with the Goblin. With the majority of the group moved back, Marcel is able to get the Goblin talking about things, nothing important, but just talking. When Draven thinks the time is right, he gives Marcel a look and quietly says a prayer to his deities, calling on the power to compel the Goblin to only speak the truth.
With a smile and a wink from Draven, Marcel continues his conversation with the Goblin, steering toward more important and enlightening information. The Goblin freely gives his indication of the size of his tribe, the Gnhasska tribe, though clearly this Goblin does not grasp the skill of counting very well. He says that his tribe is 1000 Goblins strong and that they all attacked the homestead the previous night, so Marcel moves on to other questions that the Goblin might be able to be a little clearer on. The captive happily tells about his king, Gnhass, the red-painted Goblin he had been with as they assaulted the homestead. He tells that Gnhass is the strongest and wisest Goblin king in the world and he wields the Blood Blade, given to him by the mighty Argos. He says that Gnhass fought and defeated Argos and has bent the Dragon to the tribes will. He also tells of Vlack, another powerful and tall Goblin king, of the Vlackkag tribe out of the mountains to the north. Vlack was responsible for organizing the Goblins. He brought together warbands from three tribes, the Gnhasska, the Klosslunk and the Jaggadash and they have been attacking settlements in the area for about a week now and he knows that they continue to do so until all the Humans have been driven out of the Dymrak Forest! Marcel continues to press the Goblin for information and the Goblin starts to realize that he is giving out information he shouldn’t, though he does not seem to be smart enough to stop talking for a bit. He tells Marcel that his tribe’s home is located east of the headwaters of the small river that runs right past Susikyn. He also happily gives up the location of the Jaggdash tribal home and says that it is in the forest halfway between his home and the where the Mighty Argos lairs by the lake up in the hills. He goes on that he would happily give the location of the Klosslunk, those cowardly deserters, but he does not know where they lair, though he knows it has to be somewhere near because they have always fought with them over territory.
Seeing that the Goblin is finally done sharing useful information, Marcel steps back and relays the information to his companions. Pytor stands by and listens as well. “I say we kill this wretched Goblin, but if you told him he could live, I will stand by it. We are greatly indebted to you all. We have truly been blessed by Halav in this. Thank you. I will leave the Goblin to you, now I need to see about cleaning this place up. There are dead Goblins in my house.” He bows low and steps away, still moving slowly from his wounds. After being healed by Draven initially, he refused any further aid, saying that he would rest and get healed as soon as his family was taken care of.
For the most part, the homesteaders were only very minimally wounded, Pytor taking the brunt of it, though his wife Darya also sustained some heavy wounds as well. She too waved off divine healing, relying on bandages and more mundane medical treatment.
Returning to Thyatian, Draven suggests “Tie him up well, but gently. He has known little but fear and pain his whole life amongst his own savage kind. It may be that he has a taste for kindness buried deep. Regardless, the looser his tongue, the more likely we are to make use of what information he does have. I say again, he was close to this blood-red leader and may know more specifics, if the right questions be asked.” With that he stumbles just a bit, the pain of his wounds and the sheer effort of it all catching up to him. “For now, I must rest. Even before I thank the Immortals for seeing us”, a sidelong glance to Eran, “most of us, through the night, I must rest.”
Breaking away from the rest of the group, Draven finds a quiet corner and lays down to rest for a few hours, knowing full well that he’ll never get a full nights - or days - sleep in.
Rousing himself later, he turns to his prayers. “You have seen fit to bless this, your humblest of servants, in ways far exceeding his expectations. Our thanks go to you, our immortal fathers and mothers, for keeping us safe, and sending aid when all hope seems fled. Through me, may you continue to shine brightly in this world.”
Griffin nods as Draven wanders off. “Yea, we are definitely the worse for wear. What I’m wondering is what’s next. The gobbos aren’t done, and will probably be back again. I see several folk that aren’t fit to walk out of here yet. Do we stay, fortify the house and see if we can survive another night, or do we have the capability to get all of us the heck out of here. A day back to the ferry, then maybe across the moors to Gnome’s Ferry or downstream to Kelvin.” A grimace crosses his face. “I need to get some fresh air.”
Griffin heads out into the ruins of the the compound. Horses, wagons, anything the gobbos left behind. He sees corpses lying everywhere. As he wanders, he gathers up the twisted nails. “No knowing if I might need these again.”
He heads back in and seeks out Pytor. “Sir, I’m wondering what your plans are now. The gobbos will be back. The horses we were to guard are gone. We’ve both lost people.”
“How can we help? I think we should bug out, but not everyone can. You should probably join us, but there might be things here you want to salvage.”
Pytor sighs and looks around. He has been dragging the bodies of the slain Goblins out into the yard. “I’m going to burn them, just past the fence in the north clearing. They have attacked before, they will attack again. I am sorry for the loss of your friend. He seemed like a good Elf. I have known Elves, they are good people.” His eyes stay toward the ground, not looking up into Griffin’s eyes. “I am also sorry that you made this trip here for nothing. I have no horses to trade, and therefore no job for you. The least I can do is offer you hospitality for another night and as long as you require until your companions are fit for the road. My mother is a good woman at heart, though even to me, she can be difficult to get along with sometimes. She will tend to your wounded. I can pay you some coin if you wish as well, for your troubles.” He stares off, looking at all the damage to the surrounding area.
“Father, what are you talking about,” Taras calls out as he works nearby. “Those Goblins that stole our horses, they can’t have gotten far! They would never even be able to ride them. I’d almost bet that they didn’t even get very far with them. The horses are probably out there wandering around the forest as we speak!” He shakes his head and points to the forest to the south and east, beyond the homestead. We should go after them! I will go! I will bring our horses back and then these new friends of ours can take them and sell them, just as we planned. We need the coin from those horses. Without that trade, we will truly struggle.”
“Son, we have struggled before, we shall struggle again, but always, we live on,” Pytor mumbles, head still down. “You cannot go after the horses alone, and anyway, what if the Goblins come back, I need you here to help defend the homestead.”
Taras crosses his arms, “You know those undisciplined wretches won’t be coming back. That attack at dawn by the Redblades was a last ditch effort to take the house, and it failed! The Vipers slunk off at the onset of the fight with our horses, the Wolfskull were gone by dawn, they didn’t even participate in the final assault! Their leadership is broken, they will scatter back into the forest and crawl back to their lairs, like they always do!” Taras has his axe in his hands now and is getting himself quite worked up. “Father, let me go, maybe these brave souls will join me in the quest! We have some coin on hand, we can hire them to help retrieve the horses. They came here for a job! Let’s at least give them a job! Don’t give up on this father. You worked too hard with those horses to let them slip through your fingers like this!”
Pytor grits his teeth and seems to ponder his son’s words. “You are right, son. Thank you for reminding me of what it is we do. We do not give up, we survive to live and enjoy life!” He turns to Griffin, “Friend, what my son says is true about the Goblins. I do not believe they will attack again. They never do. But I do believe that they Jaggadash cannot be far with our horses. There were some 41 horses in the pens out back that the Goblins stole. I can give you 20 gold per horse you recover for me. You may use anything we have available for supplies. We have food and gear and our 5 horses in the stables out back as well. The Vipers are cowards and not many in number. Leading a herd of 40 horses should make them easy to track and even easier to catch up with.
Nearby, Remar overhears Pytor’s offer and steps over, “20 gold per head? I think that is fair. Should take only a day or two to catch them, don’t you think? It will give your friends time to mend up anyway. After that, then we can decide what to do next, though if there are horses here, I suppose we could just do the job we came for.”
“I think that this is worth the shot.”, adds Marcel. “I don’t know much about horses, but if we can rope ’em, then why not. The old man will get some of his flock back and we will get enough to cover overhead.”
People look at Marcel, wondering what on Earth he is talking about. Marcel though everyone would understand if he used the business lingo that Madam O from the ‘maiden use to love using while having a business tantrum.
“I’ve got a goblin here. He served us well. I told him that I’d let him go as an interrogation technique… he needed hope… but we don’t need to. I’m not a man of law, but I don’t kill unless there is a battle. Is it OK if we let him go? I won’t oppose either way.”
Disinterested, Marcel walk away to let the other mull over the offer. He asks around and forages the necessary tools to fix his armor. The chainmail at the moment sags in the wrong places, but it otherwise sized OK on most other. The last user must have been rounder in the chest department. Marcel hope that he can remove the slack and stop the darn thing from flapping and getting in the way around the armpits. The combination of unsuitable tools and the type of rings used makes the job harder than planned. He completes the fix, but the armor still feels like he is wearing a wet wool blanket.
“Darn this thing, goblins made this I say.”, he exclaimed. He bunches the mail into a ball and stuffs it into his bag.
He senses that this is a crossroad to destiny that he has to seize. He stands up, takes a deep breath.
“We may no longer be bound by a common goal. We may be weary. But I propose that we persist into this company still for a little longer. There are horses about waiting to be rescued. Who know what lies over the tree line, I hope that it is profitable enough to keep up together for a little while. Furthermore, I know of an entrance to an underground complex in Kelvin. I anticipate to be filled with… opportunities. But I can’t do this alone.” He raises his fist in the air, “Who is with me?”
He then lowers his eyes once that he realizes how over the top he came across. Waiting for the laughters to rise.
Griffin stands up and walks to Marcel’s side before any laughter can start. He claps him on the shoulder and says, “A bit much, tovarisch, but I think you’re on the right track.” He turns to the others. “Okay, we’ve just been through a rough night, and I know we’re tired. We lost a friend.” He swallows, “But as much as I would want to crawl back to Penhaligon, lick my wounds and play cards for the next few years, that’s not the way this is going to go. As my dad once said, “It’s not over until we say it’s over.” At least for me, I came here to do a job. If those horses are out there, then let’s go get ‘em and get on with this.” He looks at Remar, Draven, and Ree.
Taras beams with delight as he overhears the travelers speaking together. He approaches them, smiling. “You are truly brave souls and true. Thank you so much for all the help you have given to our family. Uncle Stephan obviously chose you for a reason. You have what my Babushka would call ‘grit.’ I have saddled the horses and prepared some supplies. We can head out when you are ready.” He nods his head toward the stables around the back of the compound. “I went out and checked the woods to the south and east and the trail should be easy to follow. I know these woods well enough, we should be able to catch those cowardly Jaggadash and our horses quickly enough! Come on!”
As everyone moves to follow, Griffin notices Ree still standing in the yard near the front door of the homestead. She looks at Griffin and then back at the house. “Be careful,” is all she says as she turns and heads back inside. Draven catches her just before she goes in.
Talking to a Pretty Girl
“Well, the immortals have always held bravery in high esteem. It wouldn’t be right to turn back now.” Scavenging through the yard and the gear stripped from the goblins, Draven lays hands on the best of the slings available, and tries to find any pouches of round stones or bullets the goblins may have used. “I’m finding that being without some way to offer a response from a distance is less than perfectly satisfactory. Perhaps we have time for a quick lesson on using one of these things before we leave, lest I smack myself in the forehead instead of dispatching goblins with it?” He glances pointedly at Ree, having seen her expertise in action.
He whirls the empty sling in his hand, slapping himself a stinging blow to the shoulder and wrapping the thong around his wrist.
Griffin pointedly does not look at this interaction between Draven and Ree, curious to see how it will go.
The young girl looks up at Draven. Her Elvish features are more prominent now that she is not covered in blood, he thinks. Ree smiles at him, something that she does not look comfortable doing. “Thank you for everything earlier. I’m no expert with the sling, priest, but I can tell you that you WILL end up hurting yourself if you hold it like that. Here, like this. This strap here, on the outside, keep it on the outside.” She takes his hand and maneuvers the weapon around. It feels awkward to him, but she insists that it is right. “Those Goblins were scum, but these sling bullets aren’t half bad. I’ll have to get some myself. Practice with rocks. Away from others if you can. And the horses. Wouldn’t make sense to have to use all your healing magic up on the horses!” She nods back to Griffin, Marcel, Remar and Taras as they head toward the back of the homestead. “You going with them or you staying here?”
Laughing at himself for how amateurish he must have seemed, Draven tries to take Ree’s tutelage to heart, trying to remember how the sling feels in motion, and smacking himself on the upper arm, stingingly, a time or two in the process.
As he kneels to gather up likely stones for practice, Draven notes the subtle emphasis placed on “them” in her question. “I would have thought you’d be with them as well, off on the next phase of the Great Adventure.” He smirks, wanly, having had his illusions about what he would find out in the wider world challenged at every turn.
The first stone I tries to throw falls out of the leather cup and onto the ground at his feet. The second one goes behind him, twelve feet, disturbing nothing more than a clump of grass. But the third, the third one actually flies only a few… a handful… less than two dozen degrees off his desired course, and smacks into an entirely different tree than he was aiming at.
“As much as I feel responsible for the souls inside that building, I feel compelled to keep an eye on that lot as well, and make sure that, if the gods so decree, I keep their souls here on this plane a while longer.”
“Yea, I’m still with them, but I think someone needs to stay here and help keep an eye out for Goblins. I can help get the place cleaned up and look after Akaios and Burik while they are on the mend. They are my friends too, actually, I don’t even really know Remar or Marcel at all, Just met them a few days ago on this job. Seem nice enough. You too.” Draven thinks he sees the girl blush a little at this. “If YOU are going with them, you better hurry!” Their other companions are just rounding the corner, heading toward the stables.
Draven pointedly stares at his boots for a few seconds before her second comment hits home. “Gods, you’re right, I’d best get a move on, or I’ll be stuck with the runt of the litter! Or worse, a mule!” At last, bucking up his courage, he favors Ree with a smile and leaves off looking for practice stones - slinging will have to wait for another day - and trots off to join the rest of the company.
Griffin listens and smiles. If Ree had behaved as he expected, he would have suggested Draven have a chat with the boy Bahaznic. The girl continues to surprise him.
He makes sure to be fully kitted since he has a horse to carry things. Sword, shield, crossbow and quiver, pouch with lockpicks and personal basics. His sack is slung over the saddlehorn with the rest of his things.
He does take a few moments to make friends with the horse he picks out. He knows it’s not going to be his for long, but it doesn’t hurt to be polite, y’know?
Griffin’s chosen mount is a friendly mare, made even more friendly after Griffin passes her a few carrots he finds in the stable.
“So, what’ll it be? I’m late to the party. Did you all stick me with a broke-back mare, or the feistiest stallion in the stable?”
Remembering Ree’s little jab, he quickly stows his sling when he gets to the stable and sees the horses.
Griffin chuckles. “I think her name is Belle. Hopefully, she’s as nimble as she looks.”
Draven sizes up the horse as he walks around her quickly, pretending he knows much more than which end is the front. “I’m no hippodrome jockey, but I can keep myself in the saddle. That will have to suffice, and I hope this poor creature can bear the weight of me and my armor.”
Going After the Horses
Taras leads the group out of the homestead. Griffin, Marcel, Remar and Draven all follow. The young Traladaran points to the ground just outside of the compound showing the many tracks of passing horses. “Here, see here, Goblin tracks!” He indicates near the edges of the horse tracks. “Those bastards stole our horses. I don’t know what the Goblins were after here, but it seems like the Jaggadash found something that they liked! Now let’s go get it back!” He spurs his horse forward, galloping off toward the treeline to the south and east of Susikyn.
As the group leaves the compound, it is evident that Marcle and Remar are both not very experienced in the saddle. Remar leaves the compound at a trot, bouncing in Old Ben’s saddle and holding on to dear life while Marcel is barely in the saddle, flung forward, gripping around the neck of his mount, Pepito.
Griffin slides back to ride next to a certain Traladaran soldier. “So, Marcel, what’s this about an opportunity in Kelvin?”
Marcel tells Griffin about the city under Kelvin. "I found it when the ground opened in the basement of the Maiden", he adds. I went down under and ran into all sorts of undead things: skeletons and one big statue. They sported dogs heads, if that means anything to you. How don't know how far this all spawns, but if this is the lost city, we would be in for serious loot. You'd be perfect for this venture, friend.
Griffin realizes that Marcel, who normally seems calm and poised, is not so accustomed to horseback riding. He sees his new friend bolt past him, making some sort of high pitched wail before losing his grip all-together and flopping off the horse and landing heavily on the ground. Remar lurches forward, next to Griffin and grins an uneasy smile. “Horses, ehh?” Then gasps as his mount quickens its pace to follow the bolting Pepito.
Draven had been whistling a tune to himself, something of a lovesong he thought - until mention of home, of Kelvin, reminded him that where he'd heard it was in the house of ill repute where this expedition had started. Drifting off into silence, he assumes a stoic and pious face, and listens for more details.
Taras looks back and sees this situation unfolding and the young man has to stifle a laugh before moving to catch Pepito. He brings the horse back around and stops near Marcel. Remar and Old Ben start to hurry past and Taras lets out a loud whistle and makes some sort of yelling grunt sound and the horse slows to a stop. “Looks like you guys are a bunch of regular cavalry men. Here, listen up,” he calls to the group. He spends a few moments going over the basics of horseback riding and some specifics that these horses are trained to do. After his quick lesson he calls for everyone to mount up again.
Taras leads the group, a little more slowly this time, into the forest. The horse-thieving Goblins were kind enough to take their stolen horses and drive them along the trail, making it considerably easy to track. Taras says that this trail leads to one of the other nearby homesteads, Segenyev, about 2 days travel to the east. After about an hour of riding, the trail leads out of the forest. The path ahead is easy to spot now, as many many horse tracks have dug up the ground around the well worn trail. The treeline stretches out to the north and south here, but can be seen curving around to the south to run east. The trail follows the edge of the treeline in this direction. “Come on,” Taras calls and pushes his horse into a run.
The wind in his face, Griffin easily keeps up with Taras as they gallop along. This is definitely the way to go. If they stick together, they may need to hire someone just to watch the horses!
Taras presses on despite the fact that not everyone rides as expertly as he does, but the Goblins’ trail is easy to follow. It is difficult to hide the passage of 40-some horses. After after a few hours of hard riding, Taras pulls up the reins of his mount and stops. The path continues on to the east and north, along the edge of the forest, but the horse tracks make a sudden right turn directly into the forest. “They left the path here,” the homesteader calls out as everyone else rides up. Draven and Remar both look quite winded despite the fact that they have been riding and not walking. The sun is just about directly overhead, near noon. It is a warm day, though a cool breeze blows out from under the dark canopy of the Dymrak Forest.
“Are we likely close, then?” Draven asks between gulps of the cooler air in the shade. “If so, I say we rest here a moment, catch our...breaths… before we proceed.”
Griffin shrugs. “No way of knowing, really. Eran used to take point, keep an ear out to warn us before we stumbled up on stuff.” He sighs. “But it’s not a bad idea to take a few minutes. Hey, Taras! Can we catch our breaths before we head into the woods?”
The young horseman shrugs and brings his mount to a halt. “Looks like it might get a little cooler, at least.” as he gestures into the shade of the woods.
Griffin nods. He rides up next to Tara's. “About heading into the woods. Eran was our lead man - used to slide out ahead to listen for trouble. I’d be willing to take point if that’s okay. I’m no ranger, but I can muddle through.”
Taras pauses to allow the others to rest a bit and nods to Griffin at his suggestion to scout ahead.
Griffin saddles up as the rest of the group is still getting ready and slowly nudges Wildfire into the forest. The tracks of such a large herd of horses are easy to follow, so it is not difficult for him to keep one eye on the ground, while watching and listening for anything worth paying attention to. Left, right, up, down, he scans the environment for trouble. He cocks his crossbow and holds it in his lap just in case something shows up at close range, whether it be Goblin skirmishers or venison on the hoof.
Griffin guides Wildfire into the trees, following the easily visible horse tracks. He notices an immediate change in temperature. Even the edges of this forest still holds on to the last remnants of the cold winter months. While technically the same forest that surrounds Susikyn, Griffin notices a difference here. It is a bit more dense, darker and quieter. The closeness of the trees trunks and their interwoven branches above creates a hush that seems to fill his ears with a thick silence.
After about 10 minutes, Griffin spots a white flash of movement up ahead. He urges his horse forward, trying to get a good look at what he had just seen. He sees it again, for sure this time that it is a white horse running through the trees. Careful and unsure of these woods, he follows slowly. Off in the distance, he sees it again, this time he sees two of the homesteaders white horses trotting in the forest. He smiles, maybe gathering the herd won’t be that difficult at all if the Goblins lost all the horses in the forest. Then Griffin comes across a third horse. Nearly stumbles over it.
A magnificent white horse lays in the rotting leaves of last fall, its throat ripped out and various other wounds on its side. Griffin stares at the dead horse until he is startled by a snort. Looking up he sees one of the other white horses stamping the ground about 10 feet away, chewing on some fresh spring clover.
Carefully, the rogue dismounts and approaches the beast, speaking softly to it, attempting to keep it calm. The horse does not seem skittish and allows Griffin to approach. He tosses a lead around her neck and leads her back to Wildfire. Just then, Taras and the others ride up. A sad look crosses the homesteaders face as he sees the horse laying on the forest floor.
Continued on GDA7
Cast of Characters:Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard
Marcel Maas, a down on his luck Traladaran soldier turned mercenary commanded by +Christian Blouin
Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos piously played by +Jason Packer
and +Jason Woollard as the DM