July 2 to July 16, 2014
Bridge Over Goblin Waters
Soladain 24 of Thaumont, 1001AC
|The Grey Company's path through parts of the Wolfskull lair|
Looking Back into Darkness
Griffin peers into the darkness ahead of him. The bridge leading to the main part of the Goblin lair is the hollowed out trunk of an enormous petrified tree. The passageway inside is about 5 feet across, not enough room to walk, but plenty of room to crawl. At the far end of the bridge, about 10 yards away, another wooden barricade can be seen blocking the way out. The sound of the rushing stream below can be heard, though its sounds are considerably muted. The air in the bridge is thick and stale.
Sitting, still, reflexively clutching the ruined remains of his right hand, Draven sought some measure of peace in his heart. The creature, some manner of chaos beast that none in the party had ever before seen, had taken all four fingers, half of the palm and the tip of Draven’s thumb with that one sword blow. The ignominity of it burned him and threatened to keep him from any manner of peace - if he’d been a little faster with his shield, if he’d not been so foolhardy as to rush in, if he’d given ground instead of pressing the attack. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
A deep breath, a wave of pain in his mangled hand, and another try at tranquility.
A wise man of his people had one talked about the validity of punishments - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. He looked at the three beasts that lay across the room from him, two slain and a third unconscious, and wondered if Valerias wouldn’t consider it only fitting to collect a hand for a hand…
Everyone else’s attention is focused forward, on the bridge ahead, while Draven looks back with vengeful eyes. As he struggles with his thoughts, he thinks he sees one of the supposedly dead beings twitch and then move. The young Acolyte steps forward, straining his eyes in the low light of the Goblin lair, watching the creature. It just lays there. Dead.
Then it moves again. Draven takes another step forward just to make sure it isn’t the shadows or his pain-wracked brain playing tricks on him. The beast lies there motionless. He lets out a long, slow breath he had been holding and starts to turn back to his companions then his heart skips a beat as the other ‘dead’ one pushes himself up off the ground. The unidentified creature slowly turns his head and locks its deep, black eyes on Draven. It’s mouth curls up, revealing jagged teeth, as a bloody hand reaches out for its weapon on the floor next to it.
With a scream, half a warning to his friends, the other half pure unadulterated hatred, Draven calls on the powers of the immortals and focuses his will as best he can in his injured state. “Stop!” he yells as he channels his divine gift and feels the energy course through him, fueled further by his fear and his anger.
As Draven’s Command fills the room, the reaching creature stops, frozen in place with it’s black eyes still focused on Draven.
Closing the short distance between himself and the monster, Draven cries out a wordless shriek of fury and kicks the monster in the head with all the force his slight body can muster.
His target tries to twist out of the way, but Draven’s boot connects solidly. Draven feels the bones of the creatures jaw crumble as his foot smashes into it’s face. It flops over and falls back to the floor unmoving. As Draven grits his teeth and manages a bit of an angry smile, he sees the other ‘dead’ one making moves like it is trying to stand up as well. As Draven watches in disbelief, he notices that the wounds on the creature are not as profound as they had been earlier when they had first been defeated. Draven realizes that these foes must be regenerating their wounds!
“No,” thinks Draven, “this cannot stand!” He bends and picks the monster’s sword up in his left hand, awkwardly, and uses the edge of the blade and added force from his foot to take the head off the creature nearest him, the one he dominated and bloodied, hacking and chopping. All the while muttering unconsciously “die… die… die…”
The rest of the Company arrives to find Draven, covered in the dark blood of one of their fallen foes. The creature lies, now beheaded, at his feet and it’s bloody sword clenched tightly in Draven’s left hand. The young Acolyte is panting and gasping for breath, staring down at the severed head softly muttering “die… die.. die…”
The other two opponents lie face down, unmoving. One in a pool of his own blood from the skewering Marcel gave him earlier and the other one still unconscious from Griffin knocking him over the back of the head.
Draven addresses his friends, a maniacal gleam of triumph in his eyes. “Good, good, Griffin, quickly, take the head from that one as well. I fear it may be the only way to make sure they stay down. Both of them started to rise. This one,” he gestures with the bloody blade, “made to reach for his sword before the righteous power of the gods held him fast and my boot made pulp of his face. The other,” another flick of the blade, tossing droplets of blood, “must be playing now, hoping we’ll think him truly dead. Don’t dare to turn your backs on them again!”
Griffin, last to the party as he had to extricate himself from the stone tunnel, draws his sword. “Righteous boot. Playing dead. Got it, Brother.” He makes short work of the other two, separating their heads from their necks.
Remar, filled with concern for his priestly friend, points out that these things seem to possess incredible fortitude. He praises Draven for his ability to look into the face of his pain with such strength, and for giving so much to vanquish these foes. “If we are going to go further, we need to take special precaution. I think this place is far more dangerous than we may have ever thought it could be. Traps and regenerating goblins, too! Let’s just hope the prisoners aren’t much further.”
“Yes, yes, that was well done Griffin. Nothing good can come from any as evil as these creatures.” He drops the bloody sword onto the back of the one he dispatched himself and goes about kicking the heads at least a few feet away from their bodies. “Does this inform any of your recollections, my arcane friend?” Draven asks Remar. “Creatures of this size that can recover from mortal wounds given time? My own knowledge is far too focused on creatures from beyond the veil, or the animate dead. Is decapitation sufficient to our needs?”
Remar thinks for a moment the recalls, “I have heard others talk of magical hybrids. Abominations created by mixing different beings together, often with a Troll to get beasts that can regenerate their wounds. These here seem to be thoroughly dead now, though from what I have heard, even trolls can eventually regenerate from wounds like these and fire is the only way to truly finish them off.” He pauses for a moment, “But I truly don’t know for sure if that’s what we’re dealing with here or if what I know even applies to this situation.”
Marcel moves forward and inspect the wounds of one of the lying creature, searching for evidence of rapid scarring or healing. Bloody goblins. He runs his fingers on the stony walls.
“This place is a beating heart. Friends. This is not a goblin’s camp. This is more. We have wealth and we know where it is. This ain’t going to be moving anytime soon. We can root them out all the way to its evil core.”
The company has gotten used to Marcel’s solemn moments. They let him go.
“I say that we come back with small train and support: we clean the place up and shut this down if we can’t find Stephan soon enough. I worry about Draven’s wound, and we are weary. This throne has four legs and if any of us go, we’ll be hard pressed to keep upright. ”
He turns to Draven. “My friend and mentor, I have spoken and we should hear you first.” Marcel head bows down slightly as he anticipates to get counsel from the gods through Draven.
Stooping to pick up his shield and awkwardly shoulder his pack, Draven gives a moment of thought to the situation.
“Had you asked this shortly after the fight, I might have been quick to say that the gods were trying to send us a message that we’d bitten off more that we might chew. But having thwarted these evil beasts a second time, and having felt the god’s will at my back and flowing through me? I wonder if this isn’t just the first of many tests that we are capable of surmounting if we have faith.”
“Besides, while this money, these gems, will provide for every war widow and orphan in Kelvin for a year and a day - we came here with a mission. And if we don’t at least try to rescue Stephen, how will we look Bahaznic in the face without shame upon our return with nothing to show for but sacks of lucre?”
“I will do everything I can to keep from being a liability,” he says as he wedges his shield onto his working arm and crudely ties his holy symbol to what remains of his hand, “and can only but hope that the gods see fit to make me a useful asset instead.”
He looks from man to man and then asks, simply, “what are we waiting for?”
“You have spoken, brother.” He turns to the door. He had forgotten about Stephan for a moment and saw that Draven spoke true.
Marcel gently puts his ear near the door in hope to hear or see something interesting.
Griffin nods to the young cleric. “I think you have the right of it, Draven. We’re not here for the cash - there’s a friend and ally around here somewhere, and I’m not ready to leave until we have him. If you’re up to it, let’s finish this. Then we can all go home.” He turns to the resolute warrior. “Marcel, let me check the far end of the tunnel. Get ready, everyone. We’ll go on my signal.” Griffin readies his crossbow and crawls back into the tunnel.
Lighting the Way Ahead
“Griffin, have you a source of light? Or is it time to set you up with one?”
Griffin pauses while cocking his crossbow. “I don’t, brother, so if it won’t tax you too much, I would welcome one. Perhaps one not too bright?” He offers his leaf necklace as a receptacle for Draven’s divine favor.
Marcel wished that he had the words and the eloquence to state his point better. To him, trashing the goblin lair is the prize and Stephan took a backseat. He realizes, however, that his friends are true to the cause. Maybe they have some kind of empathy that he doesn’t. Maybe his life in the force hardened his heart. He peeks at the chest, let out a sigh. This is where we’re going, so let’s do it right.
Marcel fixes his chainmail, takes a bite of dried meat and position himself to jump on Griffin’s tail and into danger.
Draven speaks a prayer and performs an awkward ritual over Griffin’s pendant, finding it to be a little more difficult with only one hand, but in a moment, the tiny necklace begins to glow with the light of a steady, white star in the distant night.
Griffin slips the precious necklace back over his head, leaving it outside his armor for now. Gripping his crossbow, he slips into the tunnel and carefully makes his way to the other end, trying to be as stealthy as he can. He hopes to see a bit through the cracks around the door at the far end, or at least to hear if there are gobbos about on the far side.
As Griffin makes his way along the narrow bridge, the surface he is crawling along suddenly gives way. It’s a TRAP! Just behind him, Marcel sees Griffin lurch forward as the bottom of the log tunnel opens up, threatening to deposit his friend into the dangerous waters below!
Marcel expects goblin-treachery and almost prophetically extends his arm to slip his spear forward. Although the ground gives way under his feet, Griffin doesn’t fall as the cold of Marcel’s spear clangs on his collar bone and embeds itself in his throat as he pulls him back into terra firma.
“Sorry buddy.” Whispers Marcel. “My hands were full and I didn’t thought that you’d mind in the long run.”
Griffin puts his hands to his throat, in shock as Marcel let him go.
“I guess that we’re on the prisoner side of the bridge. Yebat! He softly exclaims. I hate goblins.”
Griffin coughs and gasps for a moment, looking down at the rushing water below. “Thanks,” he mutters before carefully climbing over the opened area and continuing on, more cautiously this time, to the end. Everyone else behind him is able to traverse the trapped area with no issues, though Draven struggles a bit. Griffin stops at the barricade door at the far end and motions for everyone to be quiet. He listens at the wooden door and after a few moments, decides he hears nothing, though the sound of the stream is considerably louder now that the trap door is opened.
Over the Bridge and Through the Door
Griffin gets the door ready to be opened and then, grasping his crossbow, quietly pushes it open a crack and peeks through. If he’s detected, he plans to shoot first, then push through the door so that Marcel can come out quickly. His eyes peer into the gloom of the main goblin lair.
Remar readies himself to shoot a bolt of eldritch energy at the first enemy he catches sight of, “Right behind you, Griff,” he whispers.
The room beyond the barricade appears to be empty. It is irregularly shaped, slightly resembling a triangle about 50 feet per side. There are 2 doors leading out, one straight ahead and one off to the left. Small gaps in the ceiling let just a little bit of light filter down from above. The light shining down is starting to get a little dimmer, announcing that evening is approaching. Piles and piles of blankets, furs and other sleeping rolls cover the floor and line the walls. The entire chamber is cluttered and untidy. Flies buzz around half eaten food and piles of what might be dirty clothing or used bandages. Cooking rings and fire burn marks dot the floor in various places. A quick estimation shows that a good number of Goblins could be bedding down here, well over a hundred possibly.
Easy, easy, don’t fall… Draven moves along behind and then into the room with the rest of the team. “Too bad we lack the oil necessary to set this room ablaze as we go,” he mutters under his breath as he looks around for anything the others might have missed.
Griffin slinks into the room, staying close to the shadows and any cover he can find. He motions his friends to come out but to stay quiet. Choosing his default, he selects the left-hand door and moves quietly to it. He listens intently while trying to peer through any chinks in the door’s shoddy gobbo craftsmanship.
Marcel quickly assess how long it’d take for them to dump all of the bedding in the river on their way back. He takes his cue from Griffin and follow him from a few yards’ distance. This place is treacherous, he looks for traps and anything seemingly out of place.
Every now and then, he pauses and glance at Draven to make sure that he is still doing alright. Draven looks ok. His faith in the Thyatian gods firm up a bit as his glance ping-pongs between Draven’s steely resolve and the stump of his wrist.
Griffin looks back as Draven clears the mouth of the tunnel as the sound of the rushing water rises in volume. He waves his hand to get the young man’s attention, signaling that he should close the door to the tunnel.
Draven moves to place the barricade back in place over the mouth of the tunnel and struggles trying to move it. His shield keeps getting in the way on his left and he is unable to get a good grip on it from the other side. Remar quickly moves and helps him. Together they put it back in place.
Draven then continues his search around the room but his cursory examination finds nothing but dirty bedrolls and a plethora of nasty smells. Meanwhile, by the door, Griffin listens quietly with Marcel crouched a bit behind him, ready to leap into action. The sounds of what Griffin believes are some Goblins arguing can be heard from behind the door.
Griffin whispers to Marcel a description of what he can detect about the situation on the other side of the door. “What do you think? We could wait until they finish their argument, but it could be something like ‘How should we cook the prisoners?’ Maybe Remar could fly out and around the front to create a distraction? What do you think?”
Since there is no evidence that stealth has been compromised, Marcel suggest to Griffin to have a peek. He motions Remar to stack behind them and prepare a “stone”.
Remar slowly files in behind the others, as silently as he can. Creeping up behind Marcel, he quietly tells him to stop associating his magic with any sort of mineral. “But, my magic is at the ready. The first goblin I see is getting one to the face.” Looking to Griffin, Remar answers his friend’s previous question, “You all really want to see me fly, don’t you? I do not particularly mind, but I’m not wearing any sort of costume.”
The arguing goes on for a moment, sometimes getting louder, sometimes quieter. It is unclear about what the voices are arguing about, as they both are speaking in the Goblin tongue.
“There’s little to be gained by waiting out here. We’ll not learn what they’re doing from listening to their grunting. Shall we see how quickly - and quietly - we can dispatch them?”
Remar makes a noncommittal sound, “Let’s just get it done and efficiently.”
The door itself is nothing more than some branches and wooden planks lashed together and jammed into an opening of approximately the same size. A rough blanket draped over the door makes it difficult to see through to the next area, though some faint light can be seen near the bottom, probably blending with the magical light from the Company’s enchanted items.
A Goblin Brawl
Marcel takes his cue from the other and gently shove the other out of the way. If someone is to take a surprise blow to the chin, it will be him. He pry the door to see if it will open. It opens ajar so he peeks inside so as to formulate a plan.
Marcel sets his spear against the wall next to the door and carefully maneuvers the door in the frame to see past it.
Griffin turns to see Marcel messing with the door and holds his breath.
Marcel can feel that he’s channeling Griffin for a moment and gently pushes the door where he believes is will slide smoothly. However, the dang thing is true goblin craft and tips over to the ground and crashes with a bang and a puff of dust. Marcel can’t believe that he didn’t see this one coming.
“Yebat!, Griff. Last time that I try”, as he reaches for his spear, planning to redeem himself in combat.
Two surprised Goblins reach for their weapons just on the other side of the door and several other Goblins around the large, fairly well lit room start to scramble as well. Another door leads out of this chamber to the north, but more importantly, directly across the room past the trunk of a single petrified tree in the middle of the room, is a set of bars placed positioned the opening of a smaller chamber.. the Goblin prison!
Trusting his friends to deal with the immediate threat, Griffin steps into the room and takes aim at one of the other gobbos.
Seeing that all hell is about to break loose, Draven reaches over and brushes Marcel with his holy symbol, quickly chanting a prayer of protection - "in Valerias' name, see this man safely through!"
Marcel is aware that the numerical balance will shift quickly and steps forward to deliver his trademark shield whirlwind…
As Marcel steps up, he feels the protective power of Draven’s blessing wash over him. From over his shoulder, he sees Remar fling one of his “stones” at the Goblin at the far side of the room. The unsuspecting Goblin guard tries to drop to the ground, out of the way of the magical missile, but is not quick enough and the bolt smashes into his face. Griffin notices some movement off to the left, along the wall, almost out of sight of the doorway.
The standing Goblins draw their weapons, the one along the left wall takes a step up as he readies his spear with the two in front of Marcel ready their weapons, a spear and an axe respectively. The Goblin near the bars across the room starts to pull himself to his knees.
Griffin steps further into the room to get a clear shot past the nearer gobbos to the one skulking in the shadows. His bolt flies true!
Remar sees an opportunity to force one of the goblins in front of Marcel to drop a weapon. He determinedly prepares to call to his magic despite the dizziness he was beginning to feel. Exhaustion was definitely an unfortunate prospect. Facing the goblin wielding a spear, Remar performs a ritual, making a gesture and a firm incantation. Feeling his magic pour into him, the mage orders the muscles in the hand of that goblin to seize up. “I got the one with the spear, Marcel. Watch your other side!”
The Goblin across the room attempts to dodge but Griffin’s bolt finds it’s mark and embeds itself into the Goblin’s leg. The spear wielding Goblin facing Marcel convulses briefly and drops his spear but keeps a hold of his light shield. Taking advantage of this, Marcel launches into his whirlwind attack, swinging his shield past both of the engaged Goblins. Both foes bring their shields up to block, though the axe wielding Goblin is not fast enough and takes the full brunt of the shield bash. The formerly spear wielding Goblin just barely brings his shield up in time to absorb the blow!
Calling out and brandishing his holy symbol as best he can with his newly restricted mobility, Draven calls out “Drop the axe!” at the goblin facing Marcel.
The axe wielding Goblin looks down at the axe in his hand then back to Draven. The tip of the axe wavers, then comes up in a strong chop at Marcel’s head, attacking with no mind to his defense! The blade flashes past Marcel and does not connect. The other Goblin looks the spear on the ground then back at the attacking Grey Company. He turns and runs to the north. The spear wielding Goblin moving along the wall keeps himself close to the wall to stay out of sight of the bolt wielding mage and moves toward the fray. The Goblin at the far end of the room gets to his feet and steps to the side.
Griffin drops his crossbow. Quickly drawing his sword, he steps and swings at the axe gobbo’s arm!
Being unable to defend himself, Griffin’s blade bites deeply through his leather armor and into his arm. The Goblin cries out in pain but manages to hold onto his weapon.
Having no luck on the offensive, Draven steps up behind Griffin and rests his holy symbol against his back. “By the immortal gods, you are protected!”
Griffin glances over his shoulder. “Thanks, brother! I hope our gods can see into this foul den.”
Marcel finds this axe swinging getting a bit too personal. He scans the room and spots the goblin moving in to throw the parody of a spear in their direction. He takes to his feet to close in. As he dashes forward, he exclaims at the top of his wits:
“Oh big I am, ferret boy! I’ll show you big! Now have a taste of this wafer!”, as he threaten to smite with his trusty shield.
Seeing Marcel disengage with the closest Goblin, Remar steps up behind Draven and takes a shot at the axe wielding Goblin, flinging a magical bolt at it’s face! The wound weary Goblin attempts to dodge but is not so lucky as Remar’s eldritch blast hits him full in the face and he goes down in a heap.
As Marcel charges in, shouting awkward affronts his new foe, he catches some movement out of the corner of his eye and sees another, previously unseen, Goblin, crouching in the shadowy crags of the room’s perimeter, just to his right! His attention is drawn back to the Goblin in front of him as he chucks his spear directly at Marcel! As the spear approaches, the other Goblin, on his shield side, leaps forward, swinging his axe over head in an overly aggressive swing!
The fleeing, weaponless Goblin continues to sprint north, no doubt going for the door on the far side of the room. It begins yelling loudly in the Goblin tongue! The Goblin on the far side of the room has disappeared behind the central, petrified tree.
Seeing the threat to Marcel, Remar fires a bolt of energy at the one closest to him in the face, hoping to dissuade him from further harm to his comrade.
Fearing that the fleeing goblin might escape to warn his friends, Draven takes off at a run, hoping to cut him off before he arrives at the door with a body tackle, shield first.
Seeing that Marcel is getting double-teamed, Griffin rushes to aid his comrade!
Marcel brings his shield up and blocks the thrown spear then quickly jumps to the side, away from the surprise axe-wielding Goblin, avoiding his blow as well. As Griffin rushes up to his aid, one of Remar’s bolts whizzes through the air between them, on a course for the now unarmed Goblin. The Goblin is ready for the attack, though, and nimbly dodges out of the way.
Marcel regains his wits, turns, steps and thrusts his spear at the newcomers exposed neck with an exaggerated and obvious attack. Due to his aggressive previous attack, the Goblin has no defense and the spear tip bites into his flesh. The Goblin goes down in a spray of blood, dropping his axe and landing on his shield. The other Goblin steps to his side and readies his great axe but looks to his comrade with wide eyes!
The Goblin Draven is chasing continues to run north toward the door. Draven thinks that he is about as quick as the Goblin but realizes that he will not be able to catch up until the Goblin stops at the door.
Using his tactical momentum, Marcel turns, steps and thrusts his spear at the remaining Goblin and misses when the Goblin jumps back away from the attack. Seeing that Marcel has pushed his only foe up against the wall of the chamber, Griffin turns off yet again and heads to go around the center tree-pillar, looking for the elusive 5th Goblin that is over that way somewhere.
In for a penny, in for a pound, Draven hustles as quickly as he can to catch the goblin, intent on smashing him between his shield and the door for maximum effect.
Trusting Marcel to hold his own against the remaining Goblin, Remar heads off after Draven, hoping to assist him in the pursuit of the fleeing Goblin. As he runs, Remar sends yet another magical bolt at the Goblin, striking him in the back of the head. The tiny missile hits and knocks the Goblin to the ground, stunned. The Goblin facing Marcel steps back up, away from the wall, expertly shifts his grip on the great axe he is holding and slides one hand up the shaft to just below the head, gripping it firmly in a defensive grip then quickly chopping at Marcel. The blow misses.
Griffin continues his run around the petrified tree that acts as a central column to the room. As he rounds the corner, he can see the missing Goblin crouching and looking around the far edge, no doubt laying in ambush for the other members of the Grey Company. As Griffin approaches, the Goblin hears him and turns, gripping his axe and sneering at the Thyatian!
Marcel use the tip of his spear to attempt to throw the goblin on the ground in hope to use a desperate situation to prompt a fast confession about the human prisoners. However, while he is working out his next clever comment, his spear grinds on the ground and catch a dent where it loses its momentum.
Seizing the opportunity of the downed goblin, Draven closes the intervening distance and slams down onto the creature, pressing his slight weight into the creature by way of his shield.
Still incredibly close to complete exhaustion, Remar sees his comrade’s attempt to neutralize the goblin, rather than kill it. He shoots another bolt of eldritch energy at the leg of the goblin in an attempt to cripple its use, in case the goblin had other ideas. He sighs when he feels a weak response from his magic. His hold on his magic is suffering from his severe fatigue.
The Goblin squeals loudly as Draven smashes him into the ground with his shield. The Goblin facing Marcel chops with his axe again, this time going for a strike at Marcel’s leg that looks to be true. Marcel is able to drop his shield into a lower defense and easily block the strike, letting the power of the blow move him back away from the heavy axe. The remaining Goblin charges at Griffin and wildly swings his axe down, missing terribly. Griffin responds with a slash at the Goblin’s torso and scores a hit. The Goblin is unable to dodge the strike and Griffin’s blade bites deeply, opening up a bright red gash across the Goblin’s midsection. The Goblin under Draven wiggles a bit but makes no move to get up.
“Go help the others,” Draven says through gritted teeth. “I’ve got this one pinned.” To the goblin, in Traladaran, he says “Stay down and I will spare your life!”
Remar sees that Draven has things under control. He swiftly returns his focus to helping Marcel and the others, sending another bolt at the first goblin his eyes land on, aiming for the leg to try and provide a tactical advantage to his friend.
The Goblin under Draven continues to squirm a bit, but makes no real effort to get up while Remar turns and runs back the other way, flinging a bolt at Marcel’s foe and striking him in the leg.
The battle goes on for a few more moments and finally the remaining Goblins are taken out. The one facing Marcel proves to be a bit tougher than the others, but eventually, with help from Remar’s magic “stones,” he is defeated. Marcel wasn’t even nicked by the Goblin’s great axe. None of the Goblins are dead, just beaten into unconsciousness. Draven yanks his captive to his feet and drags him to the central tree-column, slamming him up against the petrified trunk and holding his right arm firmly against the Goblin’s throat, the bloody bandage right in his face.
“This one has my promise of safe passage,” Draven admits to the others in Thyatian, hoping the goblin will not understand. “The rest, though, deal with as appropriate. We don’t need anyone raising an alarm or coming at us, or the prisoners, from behind.”
Speaking of prisoners, Griffin is inspecting the cell, looking for Stephan and any other unfortunate victims of the goblin raids.
Griffin inspects the prison cell and sees two huddled forms toward the back. There is a gate in the bars and it is merely tied up with a rusty chain. Due to the dark and the distance, Griffin cannot make out much about either of the two prisoners.
Griffin quickly opens the cell. He calls out in Traladaran, “Hello, Stephan? Folks? We’re the Grey Company. We’re here to get you out.”
He approaches the two prisoners carefully, mindful that they are still in the middle of a goblin encampment.
The prisoners cower but look up. Clearly, neither one of them is Stephan. Both are women. One, a much older woman, the other a dirty but attractive girl, maybe a year or so older than Griffin. She is dressed in dirty but nice looking leather armor and if Griffin had to guess he would say Thyatian, though there just may be some hints of Traladaran in there as well. Both women are bound and gagged.
Marcel lets Griffin take care of the prisoners and tries to convince Remar and Draven to finish off the goblins that weren’t promised a safe passage. Meanwhile, he inspect the room closely and start to gather all flammable material towards the center.
“I say that we stink up this place on the way out.”, he claims.
Marcel does not find much in the way of flammable material, there is a table in the corner with an interesting assortment of gear on it, a few chairs. A small stack of sticks that looks to be extra torches. Each of the Goblin’s weapons and probably their dirty wolf hide capes might burn as well.
Remar is glad to use his magic on the goblins who’ve made slaves of humans. His memories of his own slavery mingle very close to the surface. Taking a knife from his pack, he goes to take care of the remaining unconscious goblins, making their death as swift as possible.
While everyone else is busy, Remar deals with the remaining Goblins, then wipes the blade of his knife across one of their wolf capes and resheathes his weapon. He smiles and feels an unexpected sense of peace wash over him as he completes his task. He smiles again as he moves from body to body and removes a small handful of coins from each Goblin.
“Well, hello, ladies. My name is Griffin. We’re going to get you out of here, okay?” He gently approaches, then when he hopes that they can see that he means no harm, he removes their gags and bonds. “There now, that’s better. And who might you be? Are there other prisoners here? We were looking for a friend of ours, a man named Stephan, from Susikyn.”
Seeing a situation that might require his aid, Draven calls out “Marcel, guard my prisoner.” Upon relinquishing the goblin, he moves to join Griffin. “Is anyone hurt? I can offer some solace…” For the first time, he feels self-conscious about his bandaged hand, and the presence of a young woman will always leave him a bit tongue tied.
The younger of the two women prisoners speaks up, but seems to hesitate when her voice comes out hoarse. Still seeming overwhelmed, she replies to the first man who had spoken to her. Looking at him, she says, “Griffin, like the bird? I’m… I’m Iris.” She shyly thanks Griffin for unbinding her.
“Iris, like the flower? Charmed.” He winks. “And you, miss?” He turns to the other woman. “Can we help you out of here as well? I don’t think these surroundings do you justice.” He gives a head-nod to Iris and moves to help the women to their feet.
She takes Griffin’s hand as he helps her and the other woman up. The other woman reminded her of home, and she avoided those memories. “I don’t know her name, but she is the only other human I have seen since I was taken in here.” She never liked the sound of Traladaran, and hearing it come from her mouth was uncomfortable. But speaking to someone else was definitely a relieving prospect. She quickly slips her hand away from Griffin and steps away, “I… thank you,” she says, now timidly.
The older woman, clearly a Traladaran, is terrified. She is probably approaching her 70th year and she looks around wild eyed. She begins speaking in very rapid Traladaran, “We must go, the green-skins will be back to eat us! I hear them say so! You must save us!” Clearly she is frightened. Griffin notes that Iris is very tall, just as tall as he is!
Seeing the woman frightened brings a small frown to Iris’ face. She looks to Griffin and asks if he knows where her belongings and gear is.
“Well, I’ve been kinda busy… Feel free to take a look around.” He hands her his knife. “Here, until we find something better. No one should be defenseless in here.” He turns back to the older woman, “Ma’am, we’re here to do exactly that. If you are able to leave, let us do so post haste. If not, perhaps my young friend here” and he gestures to Draven, “could help you. The sooner we all get out of here the better, no?”
Iris sees her gear, including her nice looking saber, on the nearby table and quickly gathers it up. She sheepishly hands Griffin his knife back and straps the blade back to her waist. The older woman is very keen on getting out of this place and eagerly follows Griffins instructions, though she moves a bit slow, as an old woman would.
“Come, grandmother,” says Draven in what he realizes is rather better Traladaran than he spoke when he left Kelvin - book learning now rounded out with practical use, idioms and accent. “If there is safety here, it is with us. We will see you safely out of this place.”
Speaking then to Iris, he asks, “You say no other human prisoners. Have you seen others, or have you been held in isolation here? And do you have any recollection of the rest of this warren of the goblins?”
Iris is puzzled by the young man who appears to be some manner of chaplain. Her eyes were drawn like gravity to his missing limb, still freshly bloodied. “I rather hope your Thyatian is better than your Traladaran. I would much rather speak the language of our people,” Iris replies to him in fluent Thyatian.
She looks distressed for a moment, but noticing understanding in Draven’s eyes, she continues, “I was captured what must be several days now, near Susikyn. I cannot even begin to tell you where here is. My head was covered when I was brought to this nest. I was given barely any water or food, and it’s been a day since I’ve been in that cell. Do you happen to have anything I could drink or eat?”
“I dropped my pack on the other side of that door. There’s a bit of rations in there that you are more than welcome to.” He considers briefly. “What brought you to Susykin? The capture of our friend and shipmaster Stephan was what brought us to your rescue - perhaps you know him from your travel here?”
Incredibly relieved by Draven’s response, Iris goes to find the rations the Thyatian chaplain spoke of. “Wandering brought me to Susykin. I do not think I know of this Stephan. I apologize for not knowing anymore than that.”
Marcel is clearly disappointed that Stephan wasn’t behind this door. He peers at the women and sigh. He was hoping to make a run for it after snatching the old man. While everyone is merely involved in mission creep, he heads for the most likely point of access for the next wave of goblin.
After a brief reflexion, he realizes that the women were after all Susikyn’s prisoners and that maybe he should broaden what he considers to be this mission. He nods at Iris and flex his muscles at the same time to make a good first impression.
Seeing the strange Traladaran make a strange showing with his body makes Iris purse her lips. “Hello.”
“Since you’ve got a sabre, you are one of us for the time being lady. I’m Marcel. We usually don’t look this bad. It has been a tough day and we’re not done yet.“, says Marcel in his quaint but fully functional Thyatian. “We’re really pretty good… when the light is good.”
Marcel pulls whatever is left from his food and water stock and offer it to Iris.
“You know how to use this sabre or you are just good at convincing people that you do?”, Iris is too busy drinking water to reply. Marcel gets back to the goblin and kneels beside him. He bangs on the floor beside the goblin’s face and stump its nose against the ground. The goblin’s eyes filled with waters and a bit of blood trickles from its nostrils. The goblin is scared alright, the wound isn’t intentional, but this awkward display of unnecessary violence leaves the goblin worried about his other nostril without really loosening its lips.
“Where are the other humans?”, he repeatedly asks. The goblin looks around, waiting for him to drop it. Marcel swears to himself. He really isn’t the intelligence interrogator that he fancies himself to be… and everyone gets to witness his blunder.
Having started for Draven’s rations, and more than a little uncomfortable by the situation, Iris chooses to ignore Marcel’s offer, merely shaking her head in response. “I’m sure your appearances are clearer in the light. Is that where we are going?” Marcel’s interrogation ensues and Iris purses her lips again. She looks to the others and hopes to get an answer from them.
The Goblin snivles at Marcel and spits out a mouthful of blood onto the ground. “No more prisoners. They go with Vlack. They gone,” it mutters in barely understandable Traladaran.
With all the talk and standing around, the old Traladaran woman begins crying, “I am going to die here. I do not want to be eaten by Goblins and their wolves! Please, please, take me from this place!” She begins to wail, at a bit of a louder volume.
Griffin hisses, “Marcel. Marcel! Leave it alone. We’re leaving. Stephan isn’t here, and we need to get these folk to safety. Maybe we can come back once they’re out, but we need to get out before the rest of the place alerts.” He starts gesturing toward the door they had entered from. “Remar, close this door when you’re done.” Griffin ducks his head and leads the way back to the log tunnel.
Iris is distraught by the old woman’s behavior. The old woman shared her cell and imprisonment, and she felt strangely empathetic to her plight. She goes to comfort her and tells her that the men and boys appear to be taking them to safety. Looking to Marcel, she also tersely adds, “I do know how to use the saber, to answer your previous question. I was trained in its art.
“More pressingly, I seem to be missing some coins. Do any of you know if the goblins had any of it on them?”
Griffin looks startled. “Really? You want to look for some loose coins now? Maybe after we are out of the nest of gobbos we can talk about it, okay?”
“G-gobbos? Oh, the goblins. No, I merely was wondering if you had picked them off their dirty corpses. I can’t wait to get out of this nest, but I can’t think to impose upon any of you for hospitality,” the young woman replies.
As everyone makes their way toward the hollow log bridge, Remar shakes his head and pats his belt pouch. “I did take a few coins off these wretches, but Griffin is right. Let’s get out of here first and worry about the gold later!”
Griffin leads the way through the next chamber toward the bridge, stopping to grab his dropped crossbow, and back toward their point of ingress to the Goblin lair. Just then, a low thud, followed by dust and bits of petrified tree falling from above, shakes the entire lair. Everyone stops momentarily, looking around for some sign as to this unexpected interruption. A deafening roar follows, coming from seemingly every direction. As if on cue, everyone starts moving again, a little quicker this time, toward the covered log bridge. At the entrance to the log, Griffin ponders how the old lady is going to fare clambering through the narrow space and over the gaping trap door in the middle.
Griffin motions Marcel first through the tunnel, then Draven. He pauses, then signals Iris to go through next. “There’s an open trapdoor about halfway along, but I have a feeling you can handle it.” Then he turns to Remar and the old lady. “Remar, can your magic get her all the way through the tunnel and out? If the two of you can fly somehow, then Marcel and I can get Iris and Draven out. Maybe wait until we give a signal before you start so we all end up on the ground at the same time. Possible?”
Marcel glances at Draven. “You’ve uplifted me many times, brother. Now it is my turn.” I’ll climb the rope first so that we can haul Draven next. Hopefully we can rig you nice enough to get you off the ground with only one hand to cling with. He pauses, “Should Griffin come up too to haul?” Griffin nods and smiles.
“Iris, you keep the rear until we drop the rope back down.”
Remar glances at Griffin, “I’ve barely got enough energy to walk myself out of here, much less fly anyone out of here!” That said, it takes some special care to help the old woman through the hollow log, but in the end, she makes it safely. Everyone gathers below the hole in the ceiling, not looking forward to the climb straight up the rope.
“Well, merry band. We’ve got some hauling to do.” Marcel leads the way to the first hall and begins climbing the rope to the roof.
“Anyone has a guess as to what that howling is about?”, he asks nervously.
“I don’t know, but it sounded BIG,” Remar comments nervously. “You guys go first, I need to sit for a moment and rest.” He starts to sit down, away from the decapitated remains of the previously defeated creatures. Iris looks at the dead bodies and her eyes get big, then she looks away. The roar is heard again, a little more muffled and distant this time, but undoubtedly still nearby. Remar gets up and looks at the rope as his companions begin to climb. “I think I might be able to help with getting grandma here up to the top.”
The old woman looks at Remar with a bit of fear in her teary eyes, “Babaka is me,” she spits out in broken Thyatian. She turns to the other Traladaran speakers, “How is this one going to get me up there?”
Griffin grabs the rope and quickly scrambles up to the opening in the ceiling. (The fact that there is a pretty girl present to see his climbing prowess is purely coincidental.) “Okay,” he calls down quietly, “Iris or Remar, c’mon up!” He takes a look around the countryside from his high vantage place to see if he can detect what might be roaring.
Remar goes through the motions for a spell, moving his hands and speaking the strange, unrememberable arcane words then motions toward Babaka and she slowly begins to float off of the ground. The old woman flails for a second and lets out a quiet shriek then relaxes and allows Remar to float her up. He grabs the rope next then hurries up after her. Looking over his shoulder to Iris and Draven. “Can you help tie him up before you climb up? He is missing a hand.”
They young mage grabs the rope and starts pulling himself up. A few feet up, he begins to struggle, loses his grip and falls back to the ground, landing hard on his seat. He gets up, his face red from either exhaustion or embarrassment. He is sweating profusely, though it is quite cool in the Goblin lair. Exhausted, he grabs the rope, takes a few deep breaths and tries again but his arms fall to his sides, exhausted.
Griffin calls down quietly, “Remar, hang on a second!” He hauls up the rope and, trusting to memory, ties a non-slipping loop to the end of the rope, then drops it back down. “Slip this over your head and arms - we’ll have to haul you up.” He looks at Marcel and grabs the rope.
Iris, still distraught and confused by the sudden turn of events that have occurred since her impromptu liberation, looks upon the strange robed individual bemusedly. Then, looking to the Thyatian named after one of her favorite creatures, she remarks, “Will that be able to help Draven up, as well? I can watch our rear, as you had suggested. Just make sure to get the two of them up.” She points to the knot that he had just formed in the rope.
Here There Be Dragons
As Griffin and Marcel begin pulling Remar up, Babaka, the old woman lets out a fairly loud shriek and motions toward the main part of the lair’s roof. She then topples over and falls down, faint. Trying not to lose their grip, Griffin and Marcel turn to see a large dark shape rise up somewhere near the main entrance to the lair. It stretches its green wings out wide, nearly 50 feet wide and then disappears again below the edge of the lair. Another loud roar can be heard, more clearly now outside. A Dragon has come to the Wolfskull lair and it is not happy, by the sound of it.
The sounds originating from above her startles Iris as she goes to climb and she slips. She yells out, “What was that? Haul me up!” She moves the rope about and under her arms. She is slowly carried up. When she gets above, Iris crawls away, trying to get a better vantage point of the situation.
As soon as Iris clears the top, Griffin gets the rope off her (since she doesn’t seem to want to get down right away), and tosses the rope down over the side. “I’ll come down last. Marcel, you go first and secure the area. Remar, if you can, buddy, can you get the old lady down? Then Draven, Iris, and you. C’mon people, we’re so close to getting away!”
Iris hands Griffin the rope when he goes to reach for it, and looks at him with fear in her eyes, “You didn’t answer me! What was that outside?”
Griffin shrugs. “Looks like a pissed-off green dragon. If I had to guess, it goes by the name of the ‘Mighty Argos’. Want to go take a look, or you want to get out of here?”
He points over the side of the lair. “There are two ropes - let’s use ‘em. Iris, you follow Marcel down on that one and free climb. Draven, I’m on belay on this one. Let’s get started.”
Tiring of being treated as chattel, Draven quickly loops the rope about himself and awaits the assistance of those who’re lowering folks down. Once at the bottom, he quickly pans around with his holy symbol, looking for any unanticipated dangers.
“There is a great big winged goblin over there.”, Marcel’s mutters as he slips down the side to the ground. He waves to the other that he is OK and readies spear and shield while scanning the area for something smaller, yet green.
Still both frightened and excited of the prospect of a dragon being close by, Iris is beginning to feel that this small band of men are acting upon machinations close to her heart. Quick to listen to Griffin, she swiftly moves over to the rope and follows Marcel down. She unsheathes her saber and looks about in eager preparation for whatever is coming upon them.
With everyone safely on the bank of the swift, cold stream, the immediate area is checked out and reveals no imminent danger, though the thought of an enormous flying creature of great destruction nearby keeps everyone on their toes. Occasional wolf howls are punctuated by dragon roars from the front of the lair. Remar still looks like he can barely move under his own power, threatening to fall to the ground with every step or movement. The light of the day is nearly gone now and the surrounding petrified forest is growing very dark. The rain has finally subsided, at least for now, though everything is still soaking wet.
“A hot fire and hot food would not be amiss right about now.” Draven wonders just how a missing hand can ache so much.
“Okay, folks, let’s get some distance from this mess and then we can catch our breath, okay? Draven, can you help Remar? He doesn’t look so good. Iris, you team with Babaka for now. Marcel, you take the rear.” Taking out his necklace with Draven’s magical light on it, Griffin guides them back along the river bank towards the safe crossing he’d found earlier. They stop there before they cross. He opens his sack and shares rations and water with the old lady and anyone else who needs it.
Helping to guide the exhausted Remar along, Draven only wishes he’d been given the miracle of shared spirit. Though he was not much better off, as far as morale went. It had been a hard-fought victory and something of a pyrrhic one at that.
“If that dragon is to fly by night, our lights will be like beacons. I propose that we get a bit of distance to this and find a safe place to rest. We really shouldn’t be using lights, and without starlight we’ll be wading into thick black soup.”
Marcel covers his shield to snuff out its light. The scene turns darker.
Griffin winks and assures him that it will work out just fine so Marcel ushers the other on his tail and take the rear, expecting to see goblins, or dragons, pop from behind a tree at any moment. This is going to be a long night, but an exciting one. His attention drifts: when he’ll get back in town, he’ll ask Shaumaine to marry him.
As the group hunkers down to catch their breath and grab a bite to eat, Griffin turns again to the rescued prisoners. “Now, ladies, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Rather an adventure. Iris, you say that you did not see any other prisoners other than Babaka here. Babaka, ma’am, can you help us? Were there more prisoners? Where did they go?”
|Babaka tells of other prisoners, and other things...|
Babaka seems a little calmer now, though still out of breath even after 10 minutes of rest. She breathes heavily for another minute then looks to Griffin. “There were more prisoners. I was captured with my grandson, Tevnis, after the Goblins attacked our home, Cherkass,” she begins to cry for a moment, then carries on. “We were brought here. Several days later, some more men were brought in. Your friend Stephan was one of them. I know of him. The others from the lumber camps I think.”
As Babaka tells her story, Remar, who was resting nearby takes an interest when he hears her say Tevnis. He quickly has Marcel translate for him “What did she say about Tevnis? Ask her about being captured with Tevnis from Cherkass? I met a Tevnis from Cherkass, part of a hunting trip. With the man Elek. They are my friends! What happened to the others?” he asks nervously, already knowing the answer. Marcel translates for him.
Babaka cries some more, “They are all gone, strange one,” she replies to Remar. The young mage does not even have to wait for a clear translation from his Traladaran friend. What little he knows of the language is not even necessary to read the look on her face. He knows that his friends are gone for sure.
Remar moves away from the conversation and Babaka continues. “I know of this Vlack you mentioned earlier. A nasty Hobgoblin from the north. He seemed to be the one in charge. He came in several times and asked us each where the ‘big map’ was, but none of us knew what he was talking about. He interrogated us hard. Even killed a few of the others.” She lowers her eyes and speaks a quiet Traladaran prayer.
“About 5 days ago, I think, some other Goblins came and took everyone else away. These Goblins all had iron collars around their necks. They argued with the Kloss-Lunk for a time, then took everyone but me. They said they were taking them to the ‘old ruins of Xitaqa where Ol’ Skinny Legs would get some answers from them,’ but they didn’t want to take an old bag of bones like me. Said I would slow them down. This is truly all I know of what you ask.”
Hearing about the old ruins causes Iris to interject into the old woman’s tale. “They took the others to the ruins of Xitaqa? I was looking for those ruins. This is a rather surprising coincidence!” Her eyes seem to come alive, “I was caught by these goblins, and they are bringing their prisoners to the place I was to go to. Oh, we all must go and save these individuals. And imagine what we can find there!”
The woman winds her story down and another Dragon roar is heard, this time much closer and the sound of rushing wind follows. A large dark shape can be seen swooping past, above and a little to the north. Everyone ducks and covers any visible light as the Dragon flies over.
Babaka looks around to everyone, “We shouldn’t stay here, right?”
Griffin’s eyes twinkle. “I bow to your wisdom, Babaka. We will continue on to our camp tonight as quickly as we can, then head back to Susikyn in the morning. It should take us a few days, assuming nothing more crosses our path.” He looks around the circle. “Are we ready to go?” In the dim light he sees that the others are tired but determined. “Alright, the sooner we start, the sooner we can sleep. Same basic order, okay?” Griffin readies his crossbow and leads off into the night.
Troubled by the old woman’s tale, but excited by the prospect of finally finding the ruins she was searching for, Iris remained silent as she drove herself to follow her saviors into the wilderness. She finally felt back at home, and her senses seemed to come back into focus despite her dulled thinking from the onset of fatigue. What she could do well with, however, is a nice bath.
The Grey Company and their two new charges head out away from the Goblin lair. In the dark, the group has trouble keeping quiet. Marcel and Draven bang their shields loudly against tree trunks more than a few times. Iris also manages to make quite a bit of noise as well. The old lady, while not being very loud, often stops or slows in her march, causing others behind her to make noise in their attempts to not knock her over. In the dark it is very hard to determine the direction, but most share the thought that any direction is ok as long as it is away from the Goblin lair and the Dragon!
After carefully crossing the first stream, Griffin tries to steer them back toward the main stream, but a good ways away from the Goblins. In the dark, it is hard to keep directions straight and several times he thinks he is lost, but without any other landmarks or guides to go by, the Company just pushes on.
Eventually the group comes back to the banks of the cold, biting fish filled water. Looking around, no one is quite sure that this is where they crossed before. There are no visible crossings within sight. Most of the party seem exhausted again after about an hour hiking through the forest. Remar seems surprisingly refreshed, though.
As they stood on the side of the river, Griffin took a moment or two to assess their location. There was a small clearing back a ways under the stone trees that might make it harder for them to be detected. “Okay, folks, time to re-think this. We’re not making much progress tromping around in the dark. Let’s hole up here until dawn, rest, heal, and then tackle getting out of here once it gets light. How does that sound?”
“I’ll take the first watch.” Marcel looks for a way to climb up a tree to get a good vantage point to spot movement underneath and overhead.
“I should get one of ‘em crossbow someday”, he thinks to himself. Being a marksman is not very exciting for a career spearman. However, since there is no lines of archers in support when you are in such a small company, being able to shoot stones at goblins makes sense.
Seeing his little band of brothers settled in, roughly out of harms way, Draven sets about an extended session of prayer, giving thanks to all of the gods who helped them survive the harrowing experience of the goblin’s den. He invites any in who will worship with him, hoping for at least some manner of camaraderie.
“Come, Babaka. I suspect you do not share my faith, but my gods and yours have done us great boons today, seeing you safely delivered from the hands of evil.”
Babaka looks at Draven and politely declines his offers of prayer. She instead sits quietly and says her own benedictions, looking to Marcel to see if he will join her. “I do thank you and your brave friends for saving me, you are very appreciated!” she says. Griffin quietly passes out some rations he has been lugging around in his pack for some time.
While Draven attends to his priestly rituals, and Remar his arcane ones, Griffin will stop and hunker down next to Iris. “Didn’t have much of a chance to chat earlier, but you mentioned that you were searching for the ruins of Xitaqa? What are you looking for there? And have you ever heard of the Star of Sairalindë?”
Iris shakes her head at Griffin’s query. “This sounds incredibly intriguing, however. I’m incredibly attracted to the wonders of ancient civilizations, and just the thought of there being ruins with untold wonders makes me excited! I’m going there just to play my part to see what can be uncovered. What is this Star?” She and Griffin speak further into the night, comparing notes and finding out they both seem to share a mutual interest.
Hidden away in their tiny, wet little camp in the petrified forest, the Company tries to rest through the night, but for the most part, they are unsuccessful. The camping spot that Griffin found was at least hidden, as there were no encounters during the night. At one point, late in the night, Marcel heard something large crashing through the stony trees nearby, but he dared not leave his post and investigate.
Lunadain 25 of Thaumont, 1001AC
Leaving the Petrified Forest
When the morning comes, everyone is still tired, sore, wet and hungry. The sky above seems cloudy and overcast and the rain continues to fall. Now the issue of getting across the river has to be tackled.
Griffin stands, stretches, and cracks his neck. “Well, not my best night, but not my worst. Let’s see if we can get across this river and back to the horses. Remar, can your magic help us out again?”
Remar eyes Griffin’s pack and rubs his belly, “I think I can manage that if you can pass out some more of those rations. I’m famished!”
Griffin passes out rations to everyone from his satchel. “Eat up, folks! We’re going to need some energy today! But we should be well on our way this evening.”
Along the shores of the stream, Remar begins performing the ritual to magically apportate his companions to the other side. He is able to move half the group to the far side then asks for a short break. After resting, he is able to summon the energy required to bring the remaining members across. Remar smiles to himself and mutters under his breath, “I think I’m starting to get the hang of this stuff.”
Safely on the other side of the water, the Company plots it’s course back to Akaios and Ree.
“Well, that was a rough one.”, declares Marcel. He greets Babaka in Traladaran, making sure that Iris hears them speak. He notices a hint of annoyance in her eyes which he exacerbates with further small talks in his mother tongue.
He questions Griffin with his eyes: “Which way is the right way now?”
Iris’ eyes seem to continue to linger on Remar for a short while after their magical traversal of the stream body. When the obnoxious Traladaran makes a fool of himself with Babaka, she holds in laughter and purses her lips in veiled humor. “I hope we will be able to find my horse somewhere out here. It would be rather unfortunate if I’d have to purchase another one,” Iris remarks at some point while on the other side.
“Yes, quite. It would be terrible. First the coins… when will this all end?”, replies rhetorically Marcel with a concerned expression.
Griffin chuckles. “Now now, kids. Let’s get rolling. We’re burning daylight, as my friend Burik likes to say.” He turns around slowly, letting the rising sun fall on his face. “I think we should go… that way!” and he points confidently back into the stone forest.
“We’ve the same number of horses, but two more riders. Someone can ride pillion with me, my horse is sturdy and I’m fairly light.”
“And we brought a spare horse for Stephan to ride. Iris, maybe you can use that one until we get you back to civilization.”
Through the seemingly never-ending rain, Griffin is able to lead the Company through the difficult terrain of the petrified forest. The going is very slow with the old woman in tow. After well over an hour, the Company finds itself back out on the path they approached the lair on. All along the edges of the path, on both sides, are piles of broken rock that was not here before. Looking at the trees that lined the path, it is obvious that something large moved through here, possibly the loud crashing sound that was heard the previous night. Whatever it was, it was wide and tall enough to damage the trees on either side and in some cases, even the canopy overhead. The muddy and rocky path is very torn up. Clearly something came through here, possibly several somethings, but there is no way to determine what exactly it was, though no apparent dragon claw marks are seen anywhere. Strangely, in some places, bits and pieces of soggy tree bark is found mingled in with the rock.
It is decided to stick to the path to take advantage of the increase in speed gained by not hiking through the very hard to navigate forest itself. Several times during the day, the rain lets up a little bit, but never long enough to actually let anything dry out. At one point, Babaka trips and falls while negotiating a stony root in the trail. She scratches up her hands and knees pretty good.
When Draven stops to look at her wounds, he realizes that both women had been found in the Goblin prison bearing wounds, which they still carried. Remar, who had been scouting ahead calls out that he has found something on the trail. As everyone approches, they see a grisly scene. A mountain lion or some other large cat had been killed on the trail. The creature appears to have been smashed by something as the body smeared all over the trail. The mess is so bad that it is difficult to even get past it without stepping out into the surrounding forest for a bit. Whatever it was that killed the cat, it must have been large and uninterested in consuming its kill, as it looked that most of the carcass was there, though quite scattered.
Lunchtime rolls around and the Company still has not escaped the petrified forest. Eventually it is decided that maybe they are not on the same path they had taken the previous day. Hoping that this new path, like all the previously encountered trails, connects back up to the other ones, the group presses on, and in the end, their conjecture turns out to be right. Just before nightfall, real trees with green leaves are seen up ahead. Some shuffling is heard off to the side of the trail and Akaios calls out. Reunited, he leads them back to the campsite, which is now in a different location than it had been before.
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 ministered by +Jason Packer
Iris Varda, a Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli
Remar Umerus, an Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army conjured by +Ben Lipe and currently in NPC mode.
and +Jason Woollard as The DM