A/N: This time I’m going to start combining sessions to help catch up to where we are now faster, at least as best I can. Unfortunately I had to miss the second session so this one will be filled in with information from our Game Master, Adam Brown. The way we do things when a player misses a session is like their character isn’t there, so even with some of the info there are a lot of things we’ll miss from the first part of this entry, I’ll definitely stop to make note of when I rejoin the group, though it should be obvious as Etrigan will be LITERALLY joining with the rest of the group. Rachel and Elisha continue playing Shiri and Drogo respectively, along with Ryan who runs Jetstone, a Dwarven Fighter, and Bailey plays Wharen (spelling is questionable on that one),a Half-Elf Druid, that said, her name doesn’t get used much here because I play Etrigan as dismissive of druids in general, and slightly bothered by this druid in particular for reasons I’ll get into below. ~
I have to hand it to brother Rothsby, when he’s right, he’s right.Though even he couldn’t have foreseen just how “exciting” life was going to get. As fortune would have it our arrival and the eclipse came just one day before a monthly town meeting. As if to foreshadow the wretched turn they day was bound to see, it was drizzling.
There was a good deal to be said about me in this meeting, evidently “elves” are returning to the valley. They are right of course, but it’s not just about me. There’s another of us half-elves, a girl, or perhaps a woman, I remember seeing her around in the caravan, she must have decided to stay when they left this morning. She was wearing her hood up all through the meeting, ostensibly to keep the rain away, but I’m sure she’ll be none too fond of the sun if she’s still around in the coming days, but pointed ears aren’t the only markers of elven blood. Humans wouldn’t see it, not right away at least, but her features are too similar to my own, the half formed lines, the blunted angles, and prominent but rounded cheeks, to humans she’s just an uncommon beauty, they do always call the elves “the fair folk” I suppose. Still, she wears a hood everywhere and gets to be considered “delightful”, meanwhile I’m helping introduce new forms of racial slurs to Elvenkind, the most common being “leaf-ear”. By the way her cloak is ripped and tattered at the hem, I’d say she’s a druid, if that’s the case I suppose I should understand her reluctance. If a person is willing to seduce people from the true faith and bid them make offerings to squirrels, then why should she stand in the face of her own personal truth. Honestly, the only surprise here is that filthy tree worshipper is only committing to lies of omission. The very concept of simply “communing with nature” as worship is preposterous. Perhaps, given time I will be able to lead her down the path of repentance and redemption, until that day comes I must strive to convince her to “commune” with a bar of soap.
Anyway, I’ve become distracted and nearly lost the vein of my thoughts. Just as Brother Rothsby was in the middle of once again reminding the people (for perhaps the tenth time in the span of an hour) that “the leaf-ear” was in fact in the room and capable of hearing them, the door burst open. A ragged looking woman and her 3 children ran in from the rain, she was shivering and they were all soaked to the bone, they must have been traveling for hours by the look of them. Instinctively, I rose to meet them, intending to help with any treatment Brother Rothsby might intend to administer, however the woman, whose name I’m given to understand is Kerna, recoiled from my approach, shielding her children behind her.
She told a tale that is harrowing in its implications. Apparently, she, her children, and her husband Otto lived on one of the outlying farms, she told us how her home was raided by Goblins who pilfered livestock and food stuffs. She recounted how she gathered her children and was forced to watch, devastated, from a nearby hill as her husband was struck down. The last thing she saw as she began the trek to town was her home, burning in the distance.
Brother Rothsby took a moment to adjourn the meeting and summon Sir Derrick, the local Reeve. In the meantime I was tasked with readying a room at the temple for them. Kerna and her children sat in the pews in the next room, huddled together in prayers for her fallen husband as I readied the room for them. When I was finished I tried to reassure her that she and her children would be safe now, though I don’t think she was convinced.
When I returned to the Inn, Sir Derrick was in the process of readying the town’s defenses, ordering the Captain of the Watch to put the town on alert, doubling watches, ordering lookouts, and sending armed men to patrol the town perimeter. He even commanded a Sergeant to summon the town militia.
Shiri, along with another traveler from our caravan, a dwarf, suggested that somebody be sent immediately to dispatch the goblin raiding party at Otto’s farmstead. The Reeve however convinced them to delay their departure until the morning.
“The night is their ally and we will not be drawn out into a fight in their element. Otto lies slain,” the Reeve cautioned, “there is nothing we can do for him now. But the horn will summon the homesteaders within our walls so all others may be safe until the dawn. You will serve Otto best defending our homes tonight. There will be time enough in the dark days to come in which to avenge him. We cannot sacrifice our forces chasing fleeing foes into the darkness.” After his words the people, while visibly distressed, returned to their homes and families.
Not everyone was free to go, however. Brother Rothsby, Shiri, Drogo, the Druid (Wharen she says her name is, I just assumed it was barking dog or some other nonsense), and the dwarf, Jetstone, and myself were asked to stay as the Captain of the Watch and a Sergeant in the Local Militia both returned for a meeting in private. While the message he’d offered the people was one of reassurance, his words for us were much more dire. He informed us that it would take time to strike a posture of immediate defense, and beyond that a few days more to get the village militia assembled and ready for offensive action.
In the meantime he needed to know what exactly happened at Otto’s farmstead, and seeing as how those of us from the caravan weren’t yet involved in preparing the defenses of the village he wanted us to investigate the happenings. Jetstone and Shiri in particular displayed an intense interest in removing the goblins, however Drogo was less immediately accommodating and decided to negotiate the terms of the agreement, or more specifically her reward, and once mention of coin was brought up, everybody else was going to have theirs. Personally I wanted nothing to do with filthy, disgusting goblins, so it came as a great relief when Brother Rothsby asked me to remain behind with him to help ready space for the new arrivals to the village and prepare medical aids for the days to come. The Reeve wanted the lot of us to go, but in the end he understood that I would do more good in helping the preparations than venturing out.
Tonight, after I finished helping settle the last of those seeking refuge within the temple, I decided it would a good idea to tend to my armor and my blade, I figured I’d be wearing my sword around for the foreseeable future, and when the fighting did break out, I’d want my weapons and armor ready. Brother Rothsby noticed me putting my blade to the stone as he walked past my quarters that night, honing the edge for the battles to come. “Good idea, looks like you’re probably going to need it soon,” he told me as he peeked his head in, leaning forward resting his shoulder on the doorway.
“WHY?! Why would you say that?! It’s just inviting trouble!” I answered him. For his part he just shrugged and chuckled as he shoved off the doorframe. “In the future, maybe don’t leave after these little portents of doom. YOU’RE JUST BEGGING TO BE RIGHT!” I called after him. ~
A/N: All of what you just read, at least the important parts about the town meeting and things getting interrupted and basically everything going south in the span of a day was information that Adam gave me to help with the story as far as what happened when I was gone, it always sucks when you miss a session of an RPG like this, but what sucks even harder for me now is knowing that all this awesome stuff was only half of the session, so of course I’m going to miss out on a lot of the action, but after seeing the build-up, that’s just salting the wound. Luckily there was plenty of adventuring to be had in the future.
To be fair to Bailey, she didn’t know about the whole stigma to Elves here either, it’s just her character wears a hood while Etrigan doesn’t, so she wasn’t hiding anything intentionally it just never came up, but I decided Etrigan was a little bitter that he was treated, not necessarily poorly, but he wasn’t exactly welcomed either.
For the rest of the session that I missed I decided that Etrigan would be sort of hunting for the party and I would relate to you some events that I was told of by the rest of the group, There is one scene I’m going to relate that is almost entirely made up, not just by myself, but as the party was going through the scenario they were convinced that it was what would happen. I’ll tell you when I come back to you exactly what was false, as Etrigan doesn’t know what was wrong and the party never corrected the narrative he formed. Also the story is just funny, and to me personally having these funny stories to share is part of the feel of tabletop gaming, something you just don’t get over videogames, or really even Skyping into sessions IMO. ~
Today the other’s from the caravan left to go and reclaim Otto’s Farmstead and investigate what happened, Brother Rothsby asked me to stay behind and aid in preparations for any goblin incursions. It turns out these preparations are numerous, from helping refugees find room and get settled at the local inns, to clearing pews in the sanctuary to and setting it up as an aid station, and we even helped fortify some of the buildings around town or moving carts and wagons between the buildings to confine any sizeable attack force to engage on the main streets, this was a busy day. There’s a sense of urgency about Goblin’s Tooth that was missing these last 2 days, a palpable undercurrent of tension that wasn’t present before, and yet doesn’t seem entirely unprecedented, many of the people seemed to have some sort of experience in making these arrangements. I’d noticed a statue in the town square yesterday, though I didn’t see any identification as to the man depicted, I’d assumed he was some local saint of some sort, and I suppose I’m not far off, for the man is Shedhrig, the potter, and within this tiny town of Goblin’s Tooth he is a legend bordering on myth.
It seems some 22 years ago, the town experienced what they called the Goblin Wars, which has left vivid memories in all who survived them. In the conflict many lost loved ones to the battles and several of its veterans still live within the town to this day. It seems that during the final confrontation, Goblin forces assembled under the banner of the Goblin King Usok One-Fang had laid siege to the southern side of the town, closest to Dimshadow Woode. The village’s scouts indicated that all known goblin forces were amassed at the siege, however, Derrick of Ander’s Fen had grave misgivings about a pass steep in the hills in the north of the village. Derrick had weathered Usok’s strategies in the past and had come to expect an attack from more than one direction, he deduced that the most likely avenue for the second approach would be through this northern pass, which would allow goblin forces to advance harrowingly close to the town proper and force them to defend on two fronts.
After much consideration and careful deliberation, Derrick dispatched Shedhrig, head of the local skirmishers, and his men to the far side of the pass with a signal horn and the instructions that should the goblins approach from that lane he was to sound the horn and halt their advance.
Unbeknownst to the people of Goblin’s Tooth, another goblin tribe had come under Usok’s banner, bolstering his forces and nearly doubling his numbers. An army of goblins descended on Shedhrig and his 20 skirmishers. Dutifully his men fulfilled their charge and sounded the horn, Derrick dispatched his cavalry, a mere ten riders armed with simple spears and leather, but mounted forces nonetheless, to support Shedhrig and his beleaguered skirmishers. After a savage confrontation, the goblins in the pass were routed, but at a heavy cost, of the 30 men sent to hold the pass, only one, a man named Edward though gravely wounded, survived the attack. He rode to town and, half-delirious with blood loss, fell from the saddle at the feet of Derrick. Before fading into unconsciousness, he managed to inform the commander of the village forces to the events of the battle.
Derrick realized that the goblins outside the town must even now be waiting for a signal from their shattered forces to launch their own offensive. Emboldened by the courage and sacrifice of Shedhrig and his men, Derrick personally lead a counteroffensive deep into the heart of the besieging forces. The story goes that Derrick and the goblin king engaged each other personally for a time, but that sensing his own demise, Usok ordered his warriors to focus their strikes on Derrick while he retreated to safety. The way the people tell it, Derrick single-handedly chased Usok across the battlefield killing scores of goblins that got in his way as he advanced with a single-minded relentlessness, before he finally caught the craven king and by his own hand delivered the coup de grace.
Demoralized by the loss of their leader, and thoroughly routed by their enemy, the goblins withdrew into the forest, with Derrick and his men giving chase for a time. Since that day they said the goblins hadn’t dared venture out of their forest less they face the villagers wrath. Their sudden reappearance at Otto’s farmstead has opened old wounds for the town.
As for the heroes of the Goblin Wars, each had been rewarded in his own way. The pass which the town skirmishers had held was renamed Shedhrig’s pass, in honor of the man who paid such a final price to hold it, and a statue had been erected in the town square in his honor. The people talk of him as a symbol of the resilience, courage, and fortitude of both the man and the people who called their town home. Across the river, his grave has a place of honor within the small cemetery, where the whole of the community tends to his grave as a way to honor his sacrifice, and the people of the village visit his final resting place in times of quiet reflection to take solace in the presence of their fallen hero. Brother Rothsby held a small service at the site himself this morning in an attempt to comfort many of the villagers and join them as they offered up prayers for sanctuary to the gods. I noticed as well this morning that a number of people were approaching a beaten and battered set of armor and chipped and scratched blade one of the acolytes had placed out on display, which I later learned had been Shedhrig’s in the battle, his helmet was absent, however I remembered seeing a helmet at the meeting yesterday, from the massive dent I’d wager it was his.
For his part in the affair, Derrick of Anders Fen earned himself a knighthood, and the title of Reeve. To this day the villagers still look to him for safety and leadership, a burden he does not balk at, and though grave of countenance, he handles his responsibilities with grace and honor. Even now, in a time of great uncertainty he answers their worries with resolute confidence and practiced patience.
Perhaps most heartbreaking in this tale of heroes and bravery is the fate of poor Edward, the lone survivor of Shedhrig’s pass. It seems he lost a brother, Davis, to the contest, though his body was never recovered, the way I understand it he had been assigned to as a scout or some such, last he had been heard from, his unit had been sent to survey a nearby bog and report on any forces or troop movements he noticed. His unit failed to report in. Distraught by the loss of his brother, and perhaps haunted by what he had witnessed at the pass, his life began a long depressing spiral. They say his soul fell into a cask and he has yet to crawl out of it nearly a year ago with the loss of his beloved wife, still he has earned the respect of those around him for the deeds of his past. After hearing of his fate, I went to personally see to his state of mind, which I now understand was a mistake. He was obviously still in his cups when I approached his grocery, he seemed to know the purpose of my visit. He managed to garble his way through asking if I’d come to administer communion, adding a drunken, obnoxious chuckle. From there he quickly devolved into abrasiveness, and then outright disdain, though the last part didn’t seem directed at me personally so much as the town in general. I heard him muttering a number of racial slurs as he began… shall we say “encouraging” me toward the door. I’ll admit to having an improved opinion as to the character of the townsfolk for being able to see beyond his current demeanor to his past deeds and their continued insistence that he might find his way once more in the future, Gods know I wouldn’t have been so forgiving.
On another note, perhaps my reputation within the village is shifting, as dinner arrived and I was taking my meal in my quarters, I was approached by Kerna, the wife of the farmsteader slain yesterday, she came to make amends for her reaction yesterday, though she seemed a touch out of sorts. I asked how she was and she informed me that she wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself, she claimed she felt a deep unabating guilt at taking her time to grieve at such a dire moment. I attempted to comfort her, and in so doing have perhaps made a promise I am unable to keep. After reminding her of the great trauma she’s just experienced and reminding her that grief was an important part of her own personal health of mind, I may have accidentally promised her vengeance in telling her that our allies were out getting justice for her husband. I don’t doubt that they’ll live up to my vow… assuming they survive the encounter.
Last night Brother Rothsby approached me with a concerned look on his face. Evidently the company dispatched to reclaim the farm hadn’t reported in yet. The Reeve was sending a small group of four men to secure the farm, along with a scout to report back when they had, and asked Brother Rothsby’s permission to allocate a healer to accompany them. Rothsby made it plain to me that the ONLY mission was to be securing the farm, that they might examine any evidence of what had happened to our friends present at the farmhouse, but that beyond that would be a matter for a later time. Rothsby had to refuse the Reeve, he claimed he needed his people here in the village to help with preparations, however at that time he remembered that despite being stationed here, until he receives a dispatch with my transfer I have no true station and am thus, technically, a wandering parishioner, meaning I remain outside his authority to command, any “orders” he offers me are in effect suggestions to be headed or discarded at my leisure… for the time being at least. He also reminded me that we were approached, my fellow “travelers” and I, because we were not beholden to the Sir Derrick’s orders and free do as we saw fit, so if I decided to accompany the guards securing the farm and from there decide to… have a look around, perhaps take a walk, I would be well within my rights.
In the future, whenever I’m well within my rights to do something by my lonesome and miles away from a city, I shall at that time decide to do otherwise. We left at dawn heading west-southwest and it took us half the morning to reach Otto’s farmstead, along the way it was almost impossible to tell that it had been raining just 3 days ago, the sun was out and day was balmy.
As we approached the farmstead however my escort was quick to take up a defensive formation around me, for my part my hand jumped to the hilt of my blade and a thousand prayers made their way into my mind. From that moment forward my attention felt as though it needed to be everywhere at all times, that if I turned away from one bush, certainly it would sprout legs and I would be left lying in a pool of my own blood. Suddenly, the leader of our little troop motioned us to a stop with a closed fist (brother Rothsby made sure some of the local militia took time to coach me on their hand signs), he crouched in place as he examined something on the ground, silently and without rising he motioned us over to it. It appeared to be a strip of cloth, that perhaps once had been close to white, but now settled itself into a shade of brown, or if I’m being charitable it was the color of butter fat. At first we didn’t know what to make of it, though it struck me as something familiar or important, then I realized I was holding a piece of wool, this kind of wool was heavy, it would have been uncomfortably warm in the area these last few days, but as I bent to pick it up, having accidentally dropped it as I turned it over in my hands, the hem of my pants rose to reveal the top of my socks. Seeing my own socks prompted me to remember that during our journey to Goblin’s Tooth, Drogo had a few different random socks strewn out of her pack, as if that weren’t strange enough, each had a pair of buttons sewn onto what would have been the bottom, right around the pads of a foot, she claimed these were “sock puppets” that she had invented, made, and used as aids in her performing. As if to illustrate their intention she put one (overly ripe) sock over her hand, with the buttons on top to simulate eyes, she moved her hand as she spoke in an odd voice she claimed was for children.
I shared the pertinent details of my understanding with the group, we decided that Drogo had probably gone forward alone at this point, to scout out the farm and probably close off any potential escape routes from the other side. Cautiously, we followed the road forward, as we approached we caught sight of a small barn and corral, a part of the roof had been burned away but it was in fact still standing, which was good to see, across from that was a small shed with a built-in chicken coop, the chickens appeared to be sunning themselves as though they expected to be let out in short order. Along the side of the house we found a small garden with a waist high fence, inside however the garden itself was ruined as a poorly groomed milk cow and a few goats had wandered inside and begun eating any vegetation they could find. The road we were walking on ended at the small house itself. The front door was closed so instead of immediately moving inside, we sent two of the men to the back of the house that we might flank whoever we found inside. When the other group gave the signal (one of the militiamen gave an impressive approximation of an owl’s hoot) we called back shortly before throwing open the doors and breaching in an orderly fashion. Inside the main room we saw found Otto’s body, complete with the associated reek of a corpse 3 days passed.
While the rest of our group moved to clear each room of the small home I was left to look over the body and administer some brief rites in preparation for a proper burial. After the house was determined to be clear, the two that had gone around behind the house mentioned they had something we needed to see. Once behind the building what we found was a mess. Someone had overturned the outhouse, leaving it sitting on it’s side, and of course swarms of rodents had crawled down into, and eventually back out of, the exposed pit. There was excrement of one form or another absolutely EVERYWHERE.
Beyond that mess though there were signs that somebody had been drug from the back yard into the house, while smaller footprints lead up to the very edge of the sanitary nightmare. We decided that our group must have finished in the house as we had and moved back to keep looking when they stumbled on Otto’s corpse, and perhaps a goblin sentry in the outhouse. Outnumbered we deduced that our company had grabbed the fallen Otto and pulled him back into the house to take cover, as the surprised goblin surely rose the alarm to his cohorts. In their hurry the goblins probably uprooted the outhouse to form their own crude cover, gods knows they wouldn’t be bothered by the smell. I’m sure after a few minutes of engaging the enemy in a ranged skirmish somebody, probably Shiri, though perhaps the dwarf, grew tired of the exchange and thus bound out of cover after the enemy, this more than likely frightened the goblins who made to retreat. Sure enough, after a few moments investigating the orchard beyond we noticed what appeared to be goblin-sized tracks heading off into the forest, along with those of my compatriots and a small area where foliage was bent down, that combined with a missing bushel of apples lead me to believe that one of the two parties had stolen it, though I’m not entirely certain which.
At this point I reconvened with my escort to discuss our options. Their duty done, the militiamen sent the scout back as they began setting up an outpost within the house, for my part I informed them that I was continuing on into the forest to track down our missing party. ~
A/N: Ok I didn’t go into close detail as far as the fake battle is concerned. When I came back the party told me that they had found the tracks leading INTO the outhouse, but none coming out, so they assumed that there was a goblin inside the outhouse. Instead of opening the door to fight the SINGLE goblin they suspected was inside, instead they decided to turn it over… and of course it was empty, presumably they didn’t see tracks leading out because they didn’t roll high enough on the survival check, but they didn’t know that. Anyway, that was the ONE part of the event that I know of that was incorrect. On a side note I expect Elisha to be impressed that I managed to work her characters “Craft: Sock Puppets” skill into the storyline, it’s the small touches that build the world. ~
Brother Rothsby has obviously never been into Dimshadow Woode, because I was made to believe, by him, that it would be a simple affair, something like this: walk in, look for tracks, follow my friends, and eventually find them, then perhaps we’d arrive in town just in time for afternoon tea. It has not. I have been wandering in these godsforsaken woods all day, and I’m fairly certain that somehow or another I’ve been traveling in a circle. TWICE I noticed this one tree, that when viewed from a certain angle resembles an Elven rune the meaning of which I can’t quite place. I have been bitten by every form of insect I care to name, fallen into what I’m quite sure was a strand of poison sumac shrubs, and to cap it off, I’ve been taken captive by a small coven of half-dead goblins, they’re bodies are sunburnt and peeling, turning them an unsightly shade of brown, they look emaciated even by goblin standards, and their shoulders droop as though they are mentally and physically exhausted.
As I sit here, in this cramped little wooden cage they’re sitting there mumbling in their garbled grunts as they look at some scrap of paper, I’ve noticed that they’ll look down to the paper, then look up and point to me, and then there will be some debate between them. They only managed to capture me because one of their number grew lazy during the day. I stumbled onto him by himself and was preparing to… “handle” him personally, when I heard a sound behind me, half a dozen of them approached me with small spears drawn, for a moment I considered fighting, but it would only take a slight bit of misfortune for even these pathetic creatures to kill me, and then I would be no good to my allies. I raised my hands in surrender and at first it looked as though they might attack me anyway, when the one who had been carrying the paper suddenly cried out in that animalistic slur they use, he held up the paper to his compatriots and the first argument began. Eventually I surmised that they had decided to take me captive and await some greater authority. So here I sit, crammed into a cage as if I were some feral dog. Sometimes one of them will look at me with it’s horrid little face, a tiny, savage little grin will play it’s way across its crooked teeth, and then it’ll start to drool and lick its lips as though I’m some calf awaiting slaughter.
If they don’t release me on the morrow, I will channel my goddess’s fury, and by FIRE THEY WILL BE PURGED! Perhaps when they are ash, I will simply continue and burn a swath through this whole accursed forest.
This morning around dawn, I discovered who they had been waiting for. His name is Thrask Three-Teeth, and he’s this clan’s leader. I also learned the scrap of paper they had been arguing over was contained a sketch, one of the little doodles I saw Drogo working on, it depicted my holy symbol. Thrask informed me that his group had been the ones to attack Otto’s farm, and that my allies had in fact encountered them, though for some incomprehensible reason had decided to deal with them instead of simply putting them out of their misery. The way Thrask tells it some creature had forced them out of their home so they’d come to be in this sorry state after the farmstead because they had no place else to stay. It seems that was when they encountered the party from town and came to an agreement, they would clear out whatever had displaced the goblin’s and in return the goblin’s would return to their home and leave the town be.
First I asked Thrask to send me on my way, to allow me to find my friends and let me pass in peace, instead the wretched creature decided that he and his people would accompany me to their lair and we would see together that they had succeeded, or else they would offer me as a sacrificial tribute to whatever this monster was.
I suspect that during the few hours of hiking that followed we got turned around more than once as again I spotted trees that resemble that strange Elven rune, I made mention of this to Thrask but he tried to reassure me that there were several trees like that, supposedly they formed some sort of path that criss-crossed the whole forest.
Around mid-morning we finally caught up with the others, and were they ever in a sorry state. It appears that Thrask and his people had been driven from their “lair” (it was cave… why they tried to put on airs, I’ll never know, but it was literally just a hole in the side of a rock) not by some great monster, but by a bear and its cub. They’d finished off the mother but for some reason as I pulled my blade to show the young one mercy, they insisted that the cub be allowed to live. I guess the tree worshipper had taken it on as her new deity or maybe it was some form of pet or some such nonsense (do nature lovers take pets? Wouldn’t that be akin to slavery in their eyes?).
Evidently, tree-worshipers aren’t taught proper healing techniques, though I’ve heard some of them claim knowledge of an herbal remedy that when cured and smoked would banish all pain, though rumor also has it that one of the risks was addiction. Fortunately our group now had one who was properly trained in the healing arts, taught with a tender patience under the watchful eyes of a REAL goddess. I made short work of their wounds and tried not to show my pity for the “druid” too openly.
Jetstone managed to swallow his contempt for goblins long enough to see to it that the bargain with Thrask and his tribe stood. After a few tense moments while the goblin chieftain considered his options, he removed his necklace as a sign of the pact we’d struck and allowed us to go on our way. As we walked the others began discussing how they would report the situation to the people, it was then that the dwarf informed me that they had been ambushed by another tribe of goblins whilst wandering the forest and that somehow or another he’d gotten the crazy notion to behead one of them. After careful consideration (and more than one lecture on my part), they decided that they would tell the Reeve the truth of the matter and let the situation play out as it should.
By the time we got back to Otto’s farm, the body had been cleared and buried and a new outhouse was erected where the old one had fallen. We met up with the men stationed there and a few were assigned to act as our escorts in our return to Goblin’s Tooth. Once there we reported immediately to the Reeve to apprise him of the situation as it stood and presented him with Thrask’s token of peace. He seemed a bit anxious at the notion, but ultimately he accepted the accord we had brokered and began sending out dispatches to alert his men, it seems Sir Derrick is familiar with Thrask, he knew their clan’s insignia already, when I asked him about this peculiar knowledge he informed me that Thrask Three-teeth is in fact Usok, One-Fang’s descendant, a grandson if I don’t miss my guess. With that settled I had assumed the town would go back to its previous lazy pace, however the Reeve informed us that goblins in the region had been massing in uncommon sizes in the region to the East. It seems that the excitement in Goblin’s Tooth is not yet finished. ~
A/N: I know I’ve done a lot of these this entry but honestly a lot has happened so far, this last day was the start of the next session, when I rejoined the rest of the party. This next part won’t be too long seeing as most of the session was about a small encounter we had with a spider and then of course catching me up with the previous session. ~
It’d been a quiet couple of days, now that the town had assumed a state of full readiness there wasn’t much in the way of preparations to be made, in fact the constant state of vigilance has started to slacken slightly. The day after we returned I checked in at the local smithy with Jetstone to be sure he was healing properly, he was entirely too excited to begin working on a new set of banded mail. Then the next day in typical dwarf fashion he was all about a new crossbow he’d decided to make instead (how banded mail and a crossbow are similar I don’t fully comprehend).
Shiri has returned to her place in the fighting pits and has become something of a local champion, to look at her you wouldn’t tell that she was nearly mauled to death by a bear three short days ago. However, with the town guard and militia being prohibited from fighting, she is finding her contenders fewer and farther between each day and without proper fights to occupy some of her time she’s begun draining their casks of wine at what is, frankly, an alarming rate even for a being with orcish blood.
Drogo spends her days running about town creating all sorts of havoc with her pranks and sticky fingers, though for some reason people still think she’s a child. Lord help her when they figure her game out.
The tree-worshiper has been busy about town, on the second day back she asked me about that same peculiar Elven rune in the forest, evidently she’d seen it a few times too, and then she told me that she also found one fairly similar on the hedge surrounding the town. I was perhaps a little bit too prickly when I told her that I didn’t pray to bushes and that I hadn’t the faintest clue what it meant either.
As a point of fact I did not know what it was, but it’s appearance in town convinced me that I should look into it back at the temple where, like a truly civilized religion, and not some crazy nature cult, they would have records relating to the town’s history. I searched for two and a half days and found nothing whatsoever on the subject, though as far back as the records went there was mention of the hedge, which led me to believe that perhaps the town had been built inside an existing hedge row.
I was getting ready to abandon my search of the local records tonight when I noticed a troubling sound. Faintly, off in the distance, I could just make out the rhythmic sound of a drum, I recognized the tempo almost immediately, it was a war drum set to announce a marching pace. No sooner had I noticed the sound when the town’s guard bell rang loudly, somehow I doubted this was Tavion’s doing this time. I stood up hastily to investigate what was happening, but as I did my candle fell over onto a document which quickly caught alight, hurriedly I stamped it out and set it back on the table as I took the candle and went back upstairs into the sanctuary.
The drums were some way off still, but brother Rothsby was helping his acolytes into their armor in case a battle was to be fought. Hastily I donned my own armor and grabbed my sword from my quarters as I ran out to the small gathering. Rothsby and the Reeve were there already along with a small contingent of soldiers and those of us that had returned from the forest.
“Scouts confirm they’re wearing the bleeding dagger as their sigil,” Sir Derrick told us in a hushed tone.
Before anybody else could get a word in Jetstone turned, his face a shade of purple as he began swearing into the night. “YOU DARE SHOW YOUR FACE HERE?! WE HAD A DEAL, THRASK! WE’LL SLAUGHTER YOU ALL! YOU HEAR ME? YOU’LL ALL DIE FOR THIS. THE WOMEN! YOUR CHILDREN! THERE WILL BE NO SURVIVORS! I’LL KILL YOU MYSELF YOU FILTHY, STINKING GOBLIN DOG-HUMPER!” he screamed into the darkness, the veins in his neck bulging as his entire body was wracked with tremors of rage, he shouted loud enough that it carried through the valley and echoed off the hills miles away, I suspect he only paused to draw another breath before he would begin again.
Sir Derrick was watching them approach through a spyglass. A moment later a small pinprick of light flickered to life. “HOLD!” Sir Derrick shouted the order to his men. “Darned fools must have forgotten we humans can’t see in the dark, they’re flying a peace banner, it seems they wish to parley,” the Reeve told us softly as he turned to those of us gathered nearby. For her part Shiri seemed to deflate a bit when she realized they weren’t looking for a fight.
“Even they can’t see that far in darkness, they knew!” Jetstone responded in a bit of a pout as his muscles slackened slightly, though his face was still a deep shade of burgundy.
“You think? I mean, goblins aren’t all that smart,” Drogo added.
“She has a point, though I worry what the town will think of you allowing your ‘daughter’ to be present tonight,” Sir Derrick nodded to me.
Before I could answer him a contingent of goblins detached from the bulk of their forces. While their main host was well beyond the range of our archers, this small delegation rode to the middle of the no-man’s land, a far shot but not beyond the reach of skilled archer. “Thrask is out there with them,” Derrick said after glancing through his spyglass again, he put his spyglass away as he turned to one of his men, but before he could speak I interrupted him.
“You can’t go out there! Without you the town’s defense will be leaderless,” I told him quickly. He turned to me and I could tell part of him was irked that I had deigned to tell him what he could do, but the other part seemed to recognize I was correct.
“I assume you’d like to lead the delegation?” he asked me pointedly.
“Well… no sir. I don’t speak goblin, sir,” I told him abashedly.
“I’ll go,” Shiri volunteered eagerly.
“If you send her alone it’s guaranteed to start a war,” Jetstone advised him almost immediately.
“I’ve got nothing better to do,” Drogo shrugged as if she were committing out of boredom.
“This is no situation for jokes or pranks, the danger here is real, this is no laughing matter,” I tried to lecture her to be sure she was giving the situation proper consideration, for her part she simply shrugged.
“Doesn’t mean it can’t be fun,” she answered in a pout.
“I speak their primitive tongue, and if this IS a trap they’ll think before springing it on me,” the dwarf volunteered tersely, he’d stepped away to pace off some of his anger.
“Sir Derrick, if it would put your mind at ease, then I shall assist in mediating the others, I’ll keep them in line against their baser instincts,” Wharen offered softly.
“I suppose I’ll have to go then, wouldn’t want our delegation dying because we left their wounds in the care of a tree-hugger would we?” I bit out before I could stop myself. Why would I do that? I wanted no part in this madness, if this is a trap whoever’s out there is all but dead the minute things go south, and with this group, how else could they go?
“It seems we have our delegates then,” Sir Derrick told us with a nod. “Go, then, see what this madness is all about,” he said as he mounted his steed and rejoined his men standing at the ready on the bridge.
“We’re all going to die,” I said sheepishly to myself once we stepped past the outer guard.
“Not ALL of us, I plan on hiding behind you the minute the swords are out,” Drogo told me with a laugh.
I could feel the tension building with each step we took, my nerves became like a tightly wound spring just waiting for release. “Etrigan, Wharen, you two stay here, have your magicks at the ready in case they attack,” Jetstone ordered us sternly when we were roughly 30 feet away.
“Sure you can handle it?” I asked Wharen in what I hoped was an antagonistic tone, but at that moment I couldn’t even muster the proper amount of derision for her druidic arts. She didn’t deign to respond, choosing instead to focus on what was happening as the others drew closer to the determined meeting spot.
As my attention moved to the gathering in front of us, my nerves were all a wire, the hand clasping the hilt of my blade was white at the knuckles, every little movement the goblins made looked as if they were reaching for a weapon. “Wish we could hear what they’re saying,” I muttered as I gazed unflinchingly at the proceedings.
“I thought you didn’t speak goblin?” she asked me dryly as she turned to smirk at me. The only answer I could offer at the moment was a scowl. It irritates me to no end that she got the better of me in that exchange.
From where we stood everything was a mumble, but after a few tense minutes the two delegations began to move away from one another. While most of our party half-turned in our retreat, Jetstone walked backwards, his eyes never leaving the ridge where the goblins had gathered until we were nearly halfway back to the town.
By the time we reached the hedge, the goblins had all but disappeared from view as they moved back toward their forest. Sir Derrick ordered his guards on duty to remain at attention but gave the others leave to go about their business, with the warning to remain ready in case of an attack, then he escorted us to the Temple where we convened another war council in private. “Situation report,” he demanded of our party as soon as everyone had gathered.
“Our deal must have meant more to him than we knew, he actually came here to warn us. It seems somebody the goblins are calling ‘Brak-Ni’, that means-,” Jet started to explain.
“Giant goblin,” the Reeve interrupted him sharply.
“You know him?” Shiri asked quickly.
“Never heard of him, but you kill enough of them you start to pick up bits of their language, continue,” Sir Derrick dismissed her quickly before getting back to the topic at hand.
“If y’ask me, the term ‘giant goblin’ seems like an oxymoron,” Drogo snorted to one side.
“Drogo!” I snapped as I shook my head to her. She just rolled her eyes at me, and muttered under her breath ‘just sayin’.
“ANYWAY, this Brak-Ni is amassing an army of goblins to the east, evidently his agents reached out to Thrask to join them, instead he promised to remain neutral, this warning is all the support he’ll offer us in this, it sounds like he sent one of his scouting parties to spy on them and they never reported back, he estimates Brak-Ni has a legion of almost 100 goblins and their ilk under his banner, with more joining his cause every day,” Jet said to get our attention back to the matter before us.
The Reeve seemed lost in thought for a moment, perhaps he was remembering the war 22 years ago. “Reinforcements are still a few days out, if this Brak-Ni decides to strike in the meantime it might mean trouble. We need more information, an exact count on his numbers. For now we’ll double our patrols on the eastern flank of the town,” he ordered his men present to carry the orders. As we started to leave he stopped our party, once Rothsby and the others left he turned to us in a grave tone. “If Brak-Ni attacks while we’re waiting on reinforcements to arrive, we’ll be overrun, forget everything you just heard me say, I have a job for you,” he confided to us softly.
Those of us assembled look to one another to show we were paying attention. I knew what he was going to ask, and gods help me, I was ready. “We’re listening,” I answered him soberly as I realized what I was about to hear. What he was going to ask was the type of thing that was impossible to come away from with a clear conscience.
“You’re going to find this Brak-Ni wherever he is and bring me his head,” he told us commandingly.
“Let’s talk price,” Shiri said after a moments pause.
“Two hundred a piece, take it or leave it,” he answered without even pausing to consider the figure.
“As we are now, we won’t survive, we’ll need supplies… equipment, if we’re going to make this work,” Jet spoke up.
“And a guide to the area,” Wharen added as she set her expression.
“I’ve got just the man for the job, as far as equipment goes, the cost will come out of your payment,” the answer came shortly. Jet and Drogo nodded as Shiri grinned eagerly and Wharen shook his hand to offer their agreement. “Get me a list of everything you need and I’ll see to it that it’s made ready for you,” He added once it was agreed. Then he turned to me. “Etrigan?” he said my name in a questioning tone as he turned to me.
“I’m no assassin,” I told him somberly, I could feel the fire of my conviction blazing in my eyes, even as I hung my head in defeat.
“Does that mean you won’t help?” The Reeve asked, doubt and disappointment mingling in his voice.
“It means you can keep your blood money, if I’m going to do this I won’t compromise who I am, my soul isn’t for sale,” I answered him in despair. “If we’re done here I’d like to return to my quarters, I have to offer up some prayers and hope I can square this with my goddess, if not with my conscience,” I added bitterly as I pushed away from the table. I didn’t wait for his answer, now that I was committed to this course of action all I could do was move forward in the hopes that however this shook out I would still recognize the man in the mirror when the dust settled.
“Get some rest, you leave at dawn,” I heard him tell me as the others set about building a list of supplies they’d need for the mission.
After my nightly prayers I found I wasn’t yet ready to sleep, I figured it would probably be a long night on that front, so I went downstairs to tidy up my research station in the basement. While I was cleaning up I found something I’d missed before, not about the rune-shaped trees, but the sheet that had caught fire when the goblins had approached (gods, that was perhaps only 2 hours gone now) mentioned a Dwarven stronghold at the end of one of the rivers. It was the account of a delirious survivor they’d found bleeding and half-starved wandering the foothills some ten years before. I couldn’t see which river it was referencing, or even the man’s name as it had been consumed by the fire, what I did see however suggested that the town thought perhaps he was mad or had been seeing things, according to the report he’d died inside of a week, succumbed to the combination of his wounds and exposure. I’d have to remember to tell Jetstone of this the next chance I got.
On my way to quarters, I ran into brother Rothsby, who followed me to my room before inviting himself in and closing the door. “What did the Reeve wish to speak with the lot of you about so secretly?” he asked me after making certain nobody was listening.
“He had a job for us,” I told him plainly.
“And?” he pressed me for details.
“I have a job to do, the less you know about it the better,” I answered him bluntly.
“Acts committed in service to a greater good, even terrible, unspeakable acts, carry a certain nobility to them, however those same acts can wear on a person. Justify doing what you have to, but if you have to justify everything you do, you’ve lost yourself. Be careful, Etrigan,” he cautioned me before he took his leave of me.
“I see he hasn’t taken my advice about forboding pronouncements to heart,” I told myself dryly as I lay myself down for what was sure to be a sleepless night. ~
A/N: There you have it folks, the beginning of the quest in earnest. This is what this entire module was heading toward, exciting isn’t it? ~
Nicely done. Cant wait to read the next entry.