Chapter One: The Beginning.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
GM
 GM, 254 posts
Tue 9 Jun 2020
at 13:11
The Alchemist's Home
Having arrived in the large fortified town of Newkeep in the northeast of the Kingdom of Fahy, the adventurers were quickly sought out by a messenger from the Mayor's office requesting an audience.  He explained that Newkeep had a resident alchemist who lived half a day's travel outside of the town, and who was held in high regard because of the alchemical and natural potions and brews he produced to help prevent disease and illness within the town's walls. He had not been heard of for a couple of weeks, and while he would sometimes head off on some errand or another he would always gather his supplies at the town and send word to his friends within the town of at least some of his plans.

Lately he has been somewhat secretive, sending his apprentice to the town to buy supplies and food. But again this suggested that he was in the middle of some research and did not have time for pleasantries, even with his friends. But it is unusual that his apprentice has not been heard of for over a week, let alone two. The mayor would have sent some of his roadwardens over to investigate, however with the increase in goblin activity along the northern trade road, and rumours of a band of ogres roaming to the south, his resources have been stretched thin.

In exchange for some gold, he asked the young band to investigate on his behalf and assist the alchemist Davor if he required anything.

Spending time only to purchase a donkey for the road to carry their spare belongings, the party made their way to the north along the road for a few miles, before following the path through the grass to the northwest that had been made over the course of years as the most direct route to Davor's house. Reaching the large house when the sun was at its highest point in the sky, they saw a house that looked peaceful with no sign of movement or life within. Broguy, the young halfling explorer, spent some time scouting ahead while Findor, the elven ranger, covered them with his longbow. Their initial scout suggested that there was some activity in the house as quiet noises of movement could be heard from within.

Believing that Davor was inside and busy, the party stepped to the front door and Broguy knocked loudly, calling out Davor's name. When there was no response, Broguy checked the door to see if he could unlock it but found the door open, and the group stepped inside. Whoever was in had not yet responded, and the house had gone quiet. With but a few hand signals, the party split into four. Findor stepped into what looked to be a storeroom leading to the alchemist's trading area, however it was the trail of blood from the top of the cellar along the ground through this room that he had wanted to investigate. Broguy stood at the top of the stairs to the cellar to see if he could determine where the blood trail led, while Grimni moved to the eastern wing of the house and what looked to be a kitchen and dining area. Shanorin, the human cleric of Pelor, investigated one of the doors opposite the front door, and found a workshop with tables, alchemy utensils and a number of racks of potion bottles and vials. Usually so decisive, Wanda followed Grimni for a few steps, but the sight of vials and potions in the room distracted her, and she watched eagerly as Shanorin investigated the workshop.

Suddenly, with a roar of alarm, Grimni shouted that he had found a goblin, before the foul creature rushed to attack him. Broguy rushed to assit, and arrived in time to see Grimni dispatch his opponent with a single swing of his dwarven axe. However neither saw the second goblin at the nothern end of the kitchen, and the foul creature was able to sneak behind Broguy and stabbed him in the back, but his leather armour took most of the blow and the goblin succeeded only in slicing into Broguy's flesh. In pain, Broguy tried to fight back, but the goblin easily evaded the halfling's twin signature daggers.

Findor, distracted by the shout of alarm, stepped away from the shelves of books he was looking at to see if his help was needed, but a sound behind him alerted him that he was not alone. Spinning in place he saw another goblin quietly opening the door and with a flash of his rapier he pressed the creature back into the corridor. The goblin swiped a wickced looking dagger at him, but with a deft flick of his wrist he was able to distract the goblin and pierce its heart with his blade. The goblin fell silently, killed outright by the blow.
With Broguy slashing and stabbing with his daggers, and the goblin slicing the air in front of the halfling, neither was ready with Grimni span in place and decapitated the goblin with his axe. Broguy and the door behind him were spray in dark, stinking goblin blood.

Hearing a noise in the cellar, Findor rushed to the top and called for support from the others. Broguy responded, and Grimini remained in the kitchen and dining area to ensure there were no more goblins hiding there. Stepping down into the gloom of the cellar, Findor found another goblin trying to hide in the shadows beside some large barrels. His rapier flashing, Findor advanced to attack and stabbed the goblin in the shoulder. The goblin cried out, but the wound was a minor flesh wound that served only to slow the creature's own attack, its slashing blade never endangering the elf. Broguy ran to help his friend, and entered the cellar behind him, but unable to flank the goblin he decided to support his friend by covering his back - just in time as another goblin emerged from the darkness of a room to the south. Broguy slashed at the goblin with his twin daggers, but the goblin was able to dodge and stabbed a quick riposte that sliced the halfling a deep wound across the chest. Bleeding and sore, Broguy tried to step backwards away from the furious onslaught, only for the goblin to leap at him and stab its wicked blade deep into the halfling's gut. Broguy cried out in pain and felt the strength of his legs failing as he fell to the floor.
Hearing the cry of pain from his friend, Findor slashed and thrust with his rapier, this time managing to cut through the goblin's defence and stabbing it through the chest. This time the blow was deep, and the goblin's eyes widened as it gurgled on the blood that flowed into its lungs. Spinning in time to see the goblin standing over the prone form of his friend, Findor stabbed at the creature forcing it back into the room where it had been hiding and away from his friend. Shouting for help, he pressed his attack and the goblin tried in vain to knock his rapier aside. Once, twice, three times the thin elven blade piereced the goblin's body before the creature collapsed, no longer a threat.

As Findor wiped his blade clean of goblin blood, Shanorin raced down the stairs with her shield and mace raised and ready. Seeing the prone form of Broguy, she dropped the mace to the floor, bent over the halfling and began a prayer to Pelor, channeling her God's energies into the broken body. Slowly the halfling's wounds began to close, leaving only dark, wet blood stains where once deep slices and gashes had been. Broguy woke and groaned in pain, but the sound of his voice told those present that he was alive and no longer in threat of dying. As he picked himself up, the trio heard the final gurgling breaths of the goblin beside the barrels at it finally succumbed to its wounds.

Findor stepped through the door to investigate the room beyond and found the body of a middle-aged human male lying in a pool of its own blood. The trail of blood had been his as, dying, he had been tried to escape whoever had stabbed him by crawling down here. However, with no help coming, the man had died of his wounds.

As Findor, Broguy and Shanorin climbed up the stairs they heard from Wanda that Grimni had checked the other rooms and there were no more goblins on the ground floor. The dwarven axeman began to climb the stairs with Wanda behind him to check the floor above them. The others followed, with Findor managing to step behind Wanda at the top of the stairs in time to see a single goblin run down a corridor away from them, and leap at a window. The window shattered and the goblin disappeared out of the building, vanishing out of sight. As Findor rushed along the corridor to see what had happened, Grimni heard something moving in the room beyond a nearby door. Throwing the door open he surprised another goblin on the other side, which bared its teeth at him. Reacting faster than the dark-skinned creature, he swung with his axe. The goblin dodged to the side, evading the blow but its own dagger was out of reach of the stout dwarven warrior. Using the momentum of the axe swinging downwards, Grimni was able to raise the axe high and bring it arcing down, cutting deep with its blade and crushing the goblin's skull.

Findor stops at the broken window and looks out, but the goblin has already started sprinting to the forest in the distance. Pulling out his bow and stringing it, Findor takes careful aim at the goblin and looses an arrow. But the arrow misses by a foot or two, thudding into the earth just beyond the goblin, who begins to run in a zig-zag pattern. Realising that the goblin is too far away, Findor shoulders his bow and investigates the master bedroom just off the corridor, while the others check out the guest bedrooms on the eastern wing of the building.

Satisfied that there are no more goblins or other threats on this level, the group re-convene at the stairs before Findor climbs to the last level, where the alchemist Davor has his private study. After discovering that one of the windows has been broken outwards on this level, presumably by another escaping goblin, Findor calls for Wanda to join him as she had some understanding of alchemy. They two search through the room, and Wanda sits at the desk to read through the large tomes and hand-scribbled notes that Davor has made.

Findor returns downstairs and the group leave Shanorin to guard the staircase while they clear out the rest of the building, searching for anything of note. Ensuring they are now alone and there are no further threats, Grimni locks the door and heads to the kitchen to prepare some dinner with the fresh vegetables and hanging dried meat that is stored there. Leaving Wanda to her studies, Broguy and Findor spend their time exploring the house and collecting together anything that might be valuable and discussing what might have happened here.

Between them they come to the conclusion that the goblins didn't break into the house, that they were either let in or managed to sneak in. Judging by the wounds on Davor's body in the cellar, they had stabbed him in his chest and stomach, and had left him to die while they searched for something. Checking the bodies of the goblins they didn't find anything that they might have taken from the house, so they concluded that whatever the goblins were looking for they hadn't found before the party interrupted them.

Wanda returned from her brief skim-reading of the notes and suggested that Davor the alchemist had been using a philosopher's stone in his research to brew a liquid version that he wanted for some personal reason other than turning common metals into gold. The group decided that they needed to pursue the escaping goblins in case one of them had found whatever they were looking for, and Findor set off to locate any other tracks that may have been left. He found that the goblin had ran away the same way that all of the goblins had originally come from. Having already eaten, they wrapped some dried meat in case they needed extra provisions before setting off after the goblins.
GM
 GM, 255 posts
Tue 9 Jun 2020
at 13:16
The Goblin Lair
The forest was only a few miles from the house, and they covered the ground quickly finding where the goblin had entered the forest still running. However, once beyond the treeline the goblin had slowed and decided that stealth was more appropriate and Findor took the lead, searching for tracks. The goblin was good, and Findor lost its tracks a number of times, having to circle back and return to an area of the forest where he knew the goblin had passed previously. As evening began to set in, the group found a clearing that the goblin tracks entered and disappeared behind two large fallen logs. Something didn't feel right, and Findor urged the others to wait and observe. Soon after, Findor's keen eyes noticed movement by the log - then another. Two goblin sentries or guards, armed with crude shortbows and clearing expecting trouble. Urging Broguy to split from the main group, he removed his longbow from his shoulder and readied an arrow. Only when Broguy signaled that he was ready did Findor release his missile. The arrow thudded into into the log mere inches from the first goblin's head and the two reacted by releasing snap-shots of their own loaded bows, but both arrows disappeared into the darkness with no threat to anyone. Having a better angle, Broguy fired his own arrow that thudded into one of the goblin's shoulders and, with a squeal of pain, it dropped down behind the tree. Findor fired another arrow that clattered off the log and forced the goblin to duck, giving Broguy the opportunity to shoot at it - but the halfling's shot was wide. Grimni, seeing that the two archers had had limited effect, rushed out of the treeline and ran towards the logs. A goblin raised its head only for Findor to fire, and miss, again and Broguy's arrow to fly true and pierce the creature's chest. Distracted by the flurry of arrows, the second goblin remained behind cover long enough for Grimni to reach the fallen logs and jump over them. There was a squeal and a thud and Grimni's head appeared above the falled trees, raising his thumb.

Findor and Broguy, with bows and arrows ready, moved quickly forward and climbed over the logs. Behind them they found both goblins dead, and Grimni pointing at a concealed doorway that led down into the earth. Without thinking Broguy called out to the others waiting in the treeline, telling them they'd found a secret entrance. Cursing the halfling's impatience and impulsiveness, Grimni shook his head and darted into the tunnel. Findor realised that his own lowlight would not be ideal underground, so removed a torch and lit it as he heard the sound of Grimni's footsteps fading into the distance.

Quickly following, Findor shouldered his bow and pulled out his rapier leaving Broguy searching the two fallen goblins for anything of value.

Under the ground and out of the daylight, Findor found himself in a large cavern. Several pelts and furs were piled on the floor to his left, what looked like a crude sleeping area for a number of goblins. Bones and half-chewed chunks of meat littered the ground around the cavern. The cavern curved to the right, disappearing out of sight into the darkness and his own torch flickered revealing that Grimni was standing in the entranceway to a side cavern, already fighting with two goblins, his axe already having cleaved one to the ground. He rushed forward to help, preventing the goblins from flanking the dwarf and spilling into the larger entrance cavern. The two fought side by side against the goblins, but the cramped conditions prevented Findor from standing at his full height, and his rapier didn't flash or flick as fluidly as it should.

Broguy finally risked the darkness as he saw Wanda and Shanorin moving quickly across the clearing to the fallen logs, and he disappeared into the darkness. Spotting Grimni and Findor already in combat, he readied his two daggers - only to see another goblin step out of the darkness and rush at him. He reacted and was able to parry the goblin's whistling dagger, however his own blows were wide and Broguy found himself being forced backwards. Then another goblin stepped out of the darkness, and another, and another, and all rushed towards the party. One turned towards Findor, attempting to attack him from the rear, while the others rushed at Broguy and forced him to concede ground, back towards the entrance. Flanked, embattled and under pressure, Broguy was unable to dodge and evade every blow, and he felt each and every blade slice into his flesh. Despite none of the goblins landing a solid blow and able to stab the halfling, the sheer number of injuries he was sustaining made him feel weaker and he realised he was outnumbered and would soon fall.

Findor was also struggling. His initial flourishes with his rapier had not hurt the goblin, and the goblin had used its size advantage to nick between the rapier's movements and slice open the elf's arms and shoulder. Grimni, facing the other goblin, had dispatched it quickly but had been surprised when a larger goblin had rushed him from the darkness, wielding a crude battleaxe. The goblin had knocked aside his shield and the axe had bitten deep into his thigh. But the injury had only hardened his heart against the vile creature, and now the two were swinging their axes wildly at each other; the blades whistling through the still air with force and energy, but no blow had as of yet landed.

Finally, Findor found an opportunity and his rapier slashed beyond the goblin's defence, piercing its flesh. As the elf pulled his blade from the creature's chest, it dropped its dagger, clutching at the wound and collapsed forward. He was able to turn just in time to face the goblin that was rushing at him. Back to back with Grimni, the pair fought valiantly. Grimni used his own axe to block a blow by the goblin, using his size and strength to push the goblin's axe to one side. This gave him an advantage and he swung his axe in a forceful upper cut. The goblin took a half step back to avoid the blow - but his own axe was still too low, and Grimni slammed his axe in a downward arc. The blow cleaved the goblin almost in two.

This emboldened Findor, and he pressed forward as the goblin realised it was alone and facing an angry elf and dwarf. It backed off, taking slow steps, and Findor pressed forward. A slash with his rapier scraped the goblin's arm and it withdrew it in pain, leaving his body open to Findor's quick blade. The goblin gurgled on its own blood as it collapsed.

Back at the entrance to the cavern, Broguy was struggling to fend off the three goblins. As he tried to step back he felt something press against his back. A hand. His heart stopped for a moment, before he heard the familiar voice of Shanorin mouthing a prayer of healing to her lord, Pelor. Warmth began to flood the halfling's body as the many knife wounds closed up, and fresh energy filled Broguy. With renewed energy he slashed out with his dagger, finally catching one of the goblins a deep, bloody wound. But the three still remained standing. Then strange mystical words floated from behind the halfling as he heard Wanda chanting. Then a blast of energy pulsed past him and exploded into the face of the closest goblin. It was knocked from its feet, its face nothing but a bloody mess. Broguy swiped again, his dagger cutting deep into the body of the goblin closest to him and it fell. The last goblin took a half step back and began to chant, its fingers and hands tracing mystical patterns in the air. Broguy could hear Wanda chanting again and he took a step forward to attack the goblin - but another burst of magical energy issued from the dark tunnel behind him and smashed into the goblin's chest. The bloody hole that appeared in the creature's chest was nothing compared to the hole that exploded out of its back. The goblin staggered, its own spell lost as blood poured from its mouth. As Broguy closed towards it, the strength faded from its legs and it collapsed silently to the damp earth, its blood pouring from the gaping wounds.

The party assessed their injuries, Shanorin using the last of her God's divine energy to heal his wounds, and Findor required one of her potions of healing. Taking deep breaths, the party explored the rest of the cavern. In the side cavern where Grimni and Findor had killed their goblins, they found what looked to be a walk-in larger of bodies. Skulls and bones littered the floors, and there looked to be at least two dead bodies dismembered and cut apart ready for consumption by the vile goblins. Following the main cavern round they discovered a second entrance way, which looked to have been blocked, and another side cavern. This cavern was filled with racks of potions and boxes of goods. The group realised that the goblins had been raiding the merchant conveys on the northern road from Newkeep, and had been bringing their stolen goods here. They collected together what they could, searched the bodies of the goblins for anything of value, and split the proceeds between them. The spellcasting goblin had a dagger and ring that were warm to the touch. The dagger hummed slightly when it was held out of its sheath. Wanda cast a spell that detected any magic, and both items glowed in her eyes. Broguy, as the one wielding daggers to fight with, decided he wanted the magical dagger, the ring remained untouched as its magical properties remained a mystery.

However the more interesting prize was a withered, mummified hand with its index finger pointing. Wanda realised it was a wand that held powerful necromantic magic, and refused to carry it. Quite what the goblins were doing with such an artefact was uncertain, however the party decided that it was safer to take the wand and either destroy it, or as Broguy suggested sell it, or find somewhere to hide it from those that might want it.

The group used nearby trees to create a sled that they attached to their donkey and return the trade goods - a large sack of mixed herbs and spices and a crate of wheat - to Newkeep. Deciding that they wouldn't be able to return to Newkeep that night, they instead decided to head back to the alchemist's house where they would be safe. Cooking an evening meal, it gave Wanda the opportunity to read more deeply the notes and books that Davor had left behind. Both Broguy and Grimni spent time searching the alchemist's house, and between them they stole anything that they could blame the goblins for. They took his spellbook, a pile of scrolls they found in a chest, and all of the alchemist's brewed potions.

After talking they decided that something was amiss. They had heard that the alchemist had an apprentice, yet a search of the house showed that at the time of his death the alchemist was the only person living here. The apprentice bedroom had been cleared out of all of its belongings and tidied; the guest bedroom did not appear to have been used for quite some time. Early next morning over breakfast, the group decided that whoever had lived in the apprentice room had left in a hurry, but had taken pains to remove all of their belongings.

Wanda also announced that she'd spent a good few hours reading the notes and information, and that Davor was obsessed with finding a liquid distilled from the power of a philosopher's stone. He had found one such gemstone, and had been carefully extracting the liquid quicksilver at its heart to experiment on. However, while the notes suggested that he was close to being able to transmute the liquid into something it was not originally intended for. She knew that the philosopher's stone was able to transmute lead into gold and iron to silver, however was unaware of any other purpose. The group considered what such a magical object could do as they all turned in for the night.

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:06, Tue 09 June 2020.

GM
 GM, 256 posts
Tue 9 Jun 2020
at 19:08
Newkeep
Returning to Newkeep by midday the next day, they arranged lodgings at the inn and found a trader willing to purchase the herbs, spices and what before speaking to the mayor's office. Broguy was a little too impulsive with his words and upset the official that they were talking to, meaning that Findor needed to step in to speak to them to restore the faith that the Mayor and his officials had in the group. However, Broguy had already mentioned that they had found some trade goods and had sold them. This raised concern that they had not followed procedure and returned and sold goods that did not belong to them. They had not paid any trading tax, nor had they informed the owner of the stolen goods and received reward for their actions. Broguy tried to argue, but the officer was not to be dissuaded and raised the concern that they had operated illegally.

The officer questioned whether they had any news on the goblin threat, or whether they had wasted their time with fanciful stories of dead alchemists to cover their trail. The group decided that now was not the time to try to persuade the town officials of anything, and beat a hasty retreat. They could fight goblins and, possibly, worse without fear, but bureaucracy was a fearful nightmare.

Deciding another tact, they approached one of the town's wizards, a man calling himself Zardoz. Again Broguy was a little too quick with his words, and Zardoz kicked him out of his shop for pressing too hard on the sale of the spellbook that they later learned belonged to Davor who was a friend of the wizard's. Findor was able to calm Zardoz down, and explained that they had visited Davor to see if they could help, and that the goblins had already killed him. Promising that they would be willing to sell Davor's spellbook to Zardoz the next day, they left and spent the night in the inn.

Learning that the ring was able to counterspells, Wanda cast one of her spells into the ring to grant it the ability to counter any that would be cast at her. The dagger was magical and dangerous looking, but held no other additional properties.

After a night of discussing their plan for the morrow, the new day came too soon and a tired Broguy was warned by the rest of his team to remain polite and respectful. Rather than all of the party attending the meeting with the Mayor, Broguy visited him on his own. He explained the situation and they were given the money owed to the group for news on what had happened to the alchemist Davor. He learned that there was a bounty on goblins, and the Mayor would have paid them had he not felt insulted by the halfling the previous day. However, to smooth things over, and Broguy got the feeling that he needed their help, the Mayor offered a modest bounty of a gold piece per goblin killed if they were to head north and investigate the goblin menace. Since he didn't trust particularly trust Broguy he informed him that the bounty would be paid only if they could provide evidence of the number of dead. He suggested that they take the right ear off each killed goblin as evidence - proving that either the mayor was purposely trying to annoy Broguy, or he had a real issue with the goblins and wanted to make sure that they suffered. Broguy got the impression that it could easily be either, or both.

With that knowledge he returned to the inn to eat breakfast where he found the others already tucking in to fresh bacon, eggs and wine. Except Grimni who was on his third ale having already demolished his breakfast earlier. Broguy informed the others of the goblin bounty, and that the goblins were causing havoc with trade between Newkeep and the towns and villages to the north. There were few guards or mercenaries left to protect the carts, so recent tactics were to take a cart extra with some expendable cargo and at the first sign of trouble to protect only the most precious carts, leaving one or two carts behind. So far the goblins hadn't caught on to this trick, but it was only a matter of time.

Findor had spent his morning listening to the gossip of the other patrons of the inn, and learned that there had recently been another adventuring expedition from the town to the northeast where a group of mounds containing vast wealth and treasure was located. The group had left and returned within the week - poor weather and a lack of supplies had been the reason. However, they arranged for new supplies to be bought and set out once more. That was over a week ago and they only had a week's worth of supplies, and none of the party seemed to be the type to be able to live off the land. One merchant who sat by the fire regaled anyone who would listen with how he had lost his teenage daughter to the leader of the group, how the dashing young man had charmed her from him and led her blindly away. He must have been an evil warlock or sorcerer as she would never have left him otherwise.

With the rest of the group desiring a chance to look around town to see what goods were available, Broguy and Findor visited Zardoz to discuss Davor and the goblins. With Broguy keeping calm and not saying too much, Findor was able to negotiate more successfully with Zardoz. They learned that Zardoz was concerned for his friend, that he would often lose himself in research but that recently he had been more distant than he had been previously. He admitted that Davor had approached him to help acquire particularly difficult and morally questionable materials and resources, including body parts of recently dead bodies. Zardoz knew his friend abhorred necromancy, but found his sudden interest in potentially necromantic spell components distasteful and told him so. That was the last he saw of Davor, however he did see and speak to Wilhelm, the young apprentice. Zardoz commented that Davor came from a town to the northeast, called Wyewold and had been with Davor for a few years. While no outstanding magic user, he felt that with some hard work and effort he would make a passable wizard.

Findor took a chance and told him that Wilhelm's belonging were not found, that he thought that Wilhelm had escaped. Zardoz agreed that looked to be the case, and again said that Wilhelm was only a young man and if anyone were to know where he might be hiding it would be his family in Wyewold. He said that to help the group he would purchase the spellbook for a decent amount of money, to avoid the spells falling into the wrong hands, and to make sure that there were no necromantic spells in the pages.

Between the three of them they discussed possible ideas of what had happened, and came to the conclusion that for whatever reason the goblins were working with Davor, possibly to acquire the items and materials that he wanted that were morally dubious or that they were blackmailing him - the former seemed to fit the evidence more. However, either the relationship became sour, Davor realised what he was doing and tried to stop it or the goblins became greedy and finally they physically turned on Davor. However, either they had notice and Wilhelm was able to escape, or for some reason Wilhelm had already left Davor's employment.

It was at this point that the pair produced the wand, and showed it to Zardoz. He identified it for them, saying that it was a wand that allowed the user to raise a large number of unliving. Uncertain how they wanted to proceed, Zardoz wanted the wand off his property but the pair implored him to keep it safe for them until they knew a better way to deal with the artefact. The discussion turned to what the goblins had wanted with it, or how they had come by it. However, Findor suggested that it might have been unearthed as part of the discovery of the tomb to the northeast. Zardoz said it was a possibility, but there could easily be other factors involved. He advised the group to check out the tomb so that they could be certain, despite this taking them away from hunting for the goblins to the north and west.

The party made arrangements for prolonged quest, but were still in two minds whether they would face the goblins or head to the northeast and to the tombs to track down the missing adventuring party. Common sense prevailed when they decided that if lives were at stake, rather than just trade goods, it was worth their while to try to save a party in distress. So they decided to head to Wyewold, to speak to Wilhelm's family and try to track the missing adventuring party. To that end they purchased a number of horses that would speed up their trip, and Findor sought out a friend of his - Katniss - who was visiting the town for an archery contest in a few days that she wanted to participate in. He persuaded her to join their group, even buying her a horse with the last of the group's funds, to ensure she would join them and help them. With assurances that she would be back in time for the contest, she accepted, and the group set off for Wyewold.

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:17, Tue 09 June 2020.

GM
 GM, 257 posts
Sat 20 Jun 2020
at 08:39
Meeting the family at Wyewold
The journey to Wyewold was uneventful. It was suggested that the group push their horses early on to make up as much distance as they could, before allowing the beasts to walk normally otherwise the group wouldn't make it to Wyewold before nightfall. True enough as the sun was beginning to set the companions arrived at Wyewold. Findor arranged for room, boarding and stabling for the horses while Broguy spoke to the innkeeper and found where Wilhelm and his family lived.

Crossing a small fast flowing river over an old wooden bridge that looked in poor repair but seemed solid enough, Broguy entered a totally different part of town. Buildings lay unoccupied, farmland left unattended now overgrown with weed. It was here that Wilhelm had lived with his family before joining Davor as an apprentice, and the family remained on their land. A high wooden fence ran around the buildings of the property, but the fields associated with the property lay outside of the barricade, with a surrounding hedge and wooden fence to mark its boundary. The field looked well tended, but the size of the fields suggested there were not enough farm hands to properly tend to the crops.

Knocking on the door, Broguy was answered from inside by a rough human voice. He demanded to know what Broguy's business was, and after assurances that he was there because of the death of Davor and he wanted to help, the door was opened by a young man. Initially Broguy thought that this might be Wilhelm, but he was too young and it turned out he was his brother. Another older man, Wilhelm's father, was stood at the far end of the hallway with a heavy, dangerous looking crossbow pointed at the halfling.

Broguy assured the family that he was there only to find out what had happened, and to help. When Wilhelm stepped out of the shadow an argument ensued between him and his father as to how to protect himself. Wilhelm admitted that he had been given the magical gem by Davor and told to leave. Broguy asked about the relationship between Davor and the goblins, and learned that Davor's research required certain components that could be viewed as necromantic or unethical in nature. Davor did try to persuade the wizards of NewKeep to help, but they all rebuffed him. In desperation he turned to a small band of goblins who agreed to obtain the ingredients provided Davor brewed potions and poisons for them.

Naturally, the relationship became difficult as the goblins began to demand more and more, and Davor realised that the goblins were taking advantage of the situation. The had invited more of their clan, the Darkmoon clan, and began raiding merchants travelling the northern road between NewKeep and Murkwell, the trading town in the hills to the north. The militia from both towns have been unable to, or as Wilhelm suggested unwilling to, find the goblins and deal with them. The traders and merchants realised that the goblins were scavengers and would load a cart or two with cheaper goods, leaving these behind as sacrifice when the goblins attacked the convoy. This tactic has so far proven successful, however Wilhelm said it was only a matter of time before the goblins realised what was happening and turned their attentions to the other carts. Wilhelm admitted that the goblins had grown in number, which suggested that their confidence was growing.

It was decided that Wilhelm would leave the magic gem, Broguy had revealed that it was a philosopher's stone, where it was in hiding and move on. If Broguy could track him down, then he was certain that the goblins wouldn't be far behind. His father disagreed and vowed to protect him, but Wilhelm was adamant that if he stayed he would bring down the wrath of the goblins to his family. Broguy suggested that he would try to spread word that Wilhelm had visited his family, but had moved on without telling anyone where he would go. Hopefully, if the goblins did have friends nearby word would reach them and it would help protect Wilhelm's family.

Parting on friendly terms, Broguy promised to do what he could to help and would look in on the family from time to time. He returned to the inn for some sleep and to make plans for the morrow.
GM
 GM, 258 posts
Sat 20 Jun 2020
at 09:17
The burial mounds
Over breakfast the next morning, the group discussed what they were going to do that day. They arranged for some rations for themselves and their mounts as they didn't know how long it would take to find the missing adventurers. Piecing together what they knew and had heard, they determined the best place to begin their search, hoping to find tracks or evidence of movement.

Travelling to the north they began searching for the described mounds in the valleys between the hills and mountains. It took most of the morning, and it was well into the afternoon before Findor's keen eye noticed the unusual layout of hills that lay where two valleys merged into one. Approaching the mounds, they discovered an ancient stone circle between the five burial mounds. Some of the stones had fallen, and Findor determined that whoever had cared for this circle had died generations ago. The horses refused to enter the circle, and further investigation suggested that the central stone had been used recently enough that the blood and gore from the last sacrifice still covered the flat stone slab despite the attentions of wind and rain. The central stone had been smashed revealing a hollow cavity where something had been removed.

Wanda began to feel really uncomfortable, suggesting that something in the circle was not right. She had felt the magic associated with the druids before, a deep, powerful magic - but the atmosphere here was wrong; tainted somehow. It was suggested that the altar might be used for recharging something, and it was deduced that the wand of necromancy that the group found at the goblins' lair had come from here. Wanda agreed that if such a wand had remained hidden in this altar for years, the powerful magic in the wand would leech into the surrounding ground and taint it. Without the care and attention of a druid to the circle this leakage could have happened over the course of generations, if not hundreds of years. She didn't think that the level of taint suggested longer than a few hundred years, but it would depend on what other rituals and ceremonies had been performed here. Certainly the wand had been recharged at least once, if not more times.

Findor found a set of well defined tracks leading to the circle, and realised that large creatures had come this way. Broguy remembered something that Wilhelm had said - the night he was sent away the goblins had arrived at Davor's home and told him they knew what he was doing, that they had bested some ogres close to the northern road and had stolen something powerful from them. He deduced that this must have been the wand, and the ogres had taken it only to fall foul of goblins. Quite how the goblins had bested ogres was beyond them all, but they had. And that had forced Davor to send Wilhelm and the magical gemstone away from his home. When Findor, Broguy and the others arrived at Davor's they were still searching, probably for the gemstone, and they were able to track them back to the lair.

Searching the nearby mounds found a concealed entrance to each of them. Selecting the largest, the party arranged for Katniss to remain outside to protect the horses (she objected, but did as was suggested) while the rest of the party crawled into the burial mound. Wanda cast a light spell on a stone and gave it to Findor who threw it into the mound. On all sides were a number of burial slabs cut into the earth - human sized earthen beds where the dead would be left to return to the ground. However, there were no dead bodies here. Findor checked the earth to find that a large number of human-sized footprints had moved through this area, coming from the two tunnels up ahead. Broguy crept to the left hand tunnel, Grimni and Findor walked up the right.

They were surprised by the figures in the darkness. Scraps of cloth and armour hung from their skeletal bodies, and they stood amongst a large scattering of bones and four recent and bloodied bodies. Beyond them lay five more ornate burial slabs, possibly the higher ranked leaders or nobility of the tribe that had buried their dead here. Again the tombs were empty, but the six skeletons standing before Findor and Grimni suggested a reason for this - and for the large number of footprints seen in the main chamber. The skeletons turned towards the pair, and Grimni rushed forward followed by Findor. In quick succession, Grimni shattered the bones of the closest skeletons, his waraxe biting deep into the fleshless bodies. Findor found that his rapier, more suited to piercing through flesh and biting deep into living bodies, was of limited effect against the dry bones of the skeletons. Repeatedly his blade sliced into the skeletons, finding its way between bones and causing little if any damage to the unliving creatures.

Uncharacteristically, Grimni was distracted by something and didn't see the skeleton behind him, axe raised. Too late the dwarf tried to dodge to the side, but the axe cut through his helmet and bit deep into Grimni's skull. Findor heard the crack of bone and saw his friend stagger, struggling to stand. He cried out, realising that the two of them had become separated from the rest of the group. Wanda and Shanorin came running into the tomb, and without stopping Shanorin raised the silver symbol of Pelor she wore around her neck. In glowing light expanded from the symbol out and flowed through Grimni and Findor, but where it touched the skeletons dust flew from their bodies, their bones becoming powder and shattering, leaving only one skeleton still standing. Findor stabbed at it with his rapier, the blade slicing between ribs ineffectively. However Broguy entered the chamber at this point and, his sling in hand, he swung the weapon above his head loosing a heavy metal ball that smashed into the skeleton's skull, crushing it. The skeleton collapsed back into lifelessness.

Grimni was in bad shape, and Shanorin had to call upon her divine lord for his aid in healing the wound. As warming, healing energies entered his body, Grimni regained focus but couldn't remember anything beyond slashing his axe at the skeletons in the room.

Searching the tomb the party found a large number of masterwork weapons, armour and magical items. Apparently, whoever had raised the skeletons had either not known they were there - or were unable to lay claim to the items. Possibly because of the lingering effects of the Earth's power in this tomb, of the limitation of the spell that raised the skeletons in the first place. Vowing to put the items to good use, rather than leave them here to be misused, the group hoped that this was sufficient to appease whatever power had once lingered in the tomb and circle. Wanda also voiced a desired to get someone to come to the circle and remove the taint, though finding a druid powerful enough to do that would be a task and a half.

Broguy explained that the other tunnel had a similar chamber at the end of it. Ten high ranking burial places, for a total of ninety-odd skeletons. Yet only seventeen skulls remained in the chamber, six skeletons having been destroyed by the group, a further eleven destroyed somehow. The four bodies were searched then buried, and it was decided that these were four members of the six-strong adventuring party that had been missing. Their leader and the merchant's daughter seemed to have escaped somehow, and were not among the bodies.

Returning to the circle, the other four mounds were investigated and it was determined that the bodies in there were as yet untouched, however they were of lower social standing than those in the main mound. This suggested that the main mound held the nobles and possibly the warriors and those of influence from the tribe's history. The other mounds were mass burial mounds. It raised the question, just what did the person or thing that raised the skeletons want with the nobility and warriors rather than raising the commoners.

While the others investigated the mounds, Broguy began to dig at the damaged altar, a strange curiosity overtaking him. Underneath he found a number of magical objects, including a dwarven waraxe and some well-wrapped armour. He took these and shared them with the group, and they set up camp outside of the circle but close enough to it that no animal would want to come close to them.
GM
 GM, 259 posts
Sun 21 Jun 2020
at 22:12
Return to Newkeep
The night was long and cold, despite the unusually warm nights for this time of year. The stone circle, tre mounds - or just the imagination of those present. But it was a hard night. Tired and grouchy, breakfast was an uncomfortable affair. With all the equipment and gold the group had taken from the tomb, the donkey couldn't haul it all so they split it between the horse bags. The trip to Wyewold was a silent affair, and it wasn't till they had a warm fire, some hot food and a decent bed that the coldness left their bones. However it had not gone unnoticed that they had left north following in the footsteps of another party, who had bragged about their intended destination. And having returned with bags filled with gold, and a wooden sled carrying numerous pieces of armour and weapons.

Broguy decided to spend a cold, uncomfortable night in the stable to ensure that no-one tampered with the horses, while the treasure the group had taken from the mounds remained safe in the room they had booked. Needless to say, however, that during the night Findor was woken by the sound of someone outside their door. The unknown was trying to hook a thin piece of metal to lift the wooden bar that locked the door from the inside. With a rush, Findor ran to the door and scared off whoever was on the other side. Opening the door revealed that they had climbed through an open window at the end of the hallway.

Not wanting to chase a thief of limited ability, Findor returned to the room, locked the door and remained on guard and vigilant for the rest of the night. Nobody else tried their hand, and the morning came soon enough.

The group rode hard, discussing their plans, and arrived in NewKeep as the sun after the sun had already set, and night had drawn in. The portcullis was down barring entry to the city. Undaunted the party walked up to the gate, and called out to the guards to let them in. Being as it was after hours, they were told entry would cost more than the usual entry tax for traders and merchants, and they negotiated the price of twenty gold per horse. Remembering that gems were valued more than gold by some, the debt was settled with Findor offering a small bag of rubies they had found in the goblin's lair. He knew that the rubies could be sold for around a hundred gold, but the offer was more than sufficient and the towns guard opened the portcullis and allowed the party entry.

They found a room spare, agreed for some food and stables for the horses, and spent an exhausted night in comfortable beds with full stomachs. Nobody tried to enter their room that night, despite Findor's attempts to remain awake to guard their treasure.

The group took their time, spending the next week in NewKeep finding buyers for the treasure they had acquired as well as enchanters who could imbue their weapons and armour with magical abilities. They also spoke again the Zardoz, and he agreed that the wand of necromancy would need to be destroyed or taken, as an item of such power and corruption would call to necromancer and the unliving alike and draw them close. For now he was able to enchant a box to keep the wand safe, but the group would need to find a way to destroy it.

After six days of rest, the party decided that it was time to face the goblin threat once and for all. On the morning of the seventh day, the party left NewKeep and headed north, first to return to Davor's home and then onwards to return to the goblin lair and see if they could pick up any trail to tell them where the goblins may have gone.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:24, Sun 21 June 2020.

GM
 GM, 260 posts
Mon 22 Jun 2020
at 12:34
Scouting the Goblins
The group, having forgotten searching for the missing adventurers for now, turned their focus back to the goblins. They left Newkeep early with provisions and all their new equipment riding north along the trade road. They then turned northwest and headed to Davor's house. They found the alchemist's house as they had left it - Davor's body was left untouched, as were the six goblins that the party had defeated the last time they were here. They buried Davor before moving on and moved the goblin bodies outside, creating a pyre and burning the bodies and scraps of clothing.

The decision was made to head to the underground goblin lair to see if there was anything there that the party could use. It was growing late in the day when the party arrived at the clearing in the trees, and straight away it was obvious for even those untrained at finding tracks, that more than just a few goblins had been here in the last few days. The tracks that the party had left had been walked over by a large number of footprints, and Findor was able to identify them as belonging to goblins. It was impossible to determine how many goblins had made the tracks, though he estimated that they had been here three to four days ago. They approached from the north, entered the lair and, from what they could determine, spent time checking each of the caverns, before heading back to the north. The footprints were deep and further apart than expected, suggesting that the goblins were in a hurry, not taking their time. It wasn't difficult to follow the tracks, but the party decided against doing it overnight. They made camp close to the lair, hidden by the treeline, and had a restless night worrying whether the goblins would return.

The following day was a long one. The party had to walk and lead their horses through the dense forest, and there were times that Findor seemed to lose the tracks - but there were so many goblins, in such a hurry, that they didn't even try to hide their trail, and the path of destruction through the forest was easy to spot. However it was slow going, and several hours later, with the sun hanging low in the sky, the party stopped for a few moments to check their bearings. Climbing a tree, Broguy looked ahead to see that barely a mile ahead the trees had been cut back to create a large clearing, and he could just make out wooden rooftops and wisps of smoke floating into the sky suggesting a hidden settlement.

The party moved closer and investigated, finding what looked to be an old human logging settlement that had been repurposed by its new inhabitants. There were a large number of goblins patrolling the settlement, with a number of watchtowers each with two goblins inside. To the west was a large barricade of logs, which looked to be the entrance to the camp, and an eight foot wooden palisade surrounded the camp with wickedly sharp looking spikes on top.

The decision was made to scout further, and Broguy and Findor circled the camp carefully. They identified perhaps twenty goblins both in the towers, protecting the entrance and patrolling the perimeter of the camp. Inside there seemed to be a large, deep pit of some kind, with a single goblin standing close to it at all times. They were able to identify sections along the wooden wall where trees had grown close and were starting to overhang the wall, and these could be possible entry points. They further identified that only the goblins in the watchtowers could see over the palisade, so if they remained in the forest they could shoot arrows and other missiles into the camp, at least initially, without fear of reprisals. Wanda reminded the group that she had picked up a wand of magic missile that she could use instead of a bow and arrow, and she could position herself close to the entrance to fire on the watchtowers there as well as the gate defenders.

However, it would be only a matter of time before the goblins realised that they were being attacked and tried to leave the camp, or spotted Wanda or Shanorin close to the entrance. Grimni said he would hide the other side of the entrance and support the two girls if the goblins were to leave the camp. Hopefully they wouldn't be leaving in too large a number, and he would be able to deal with them. At the very least, he could attack and have Wanda support for a while.

The group also suggested using fire arrows to attack the wooden buildings, but this would prove difficult since any goblins inside the buildings could just leave to avoid being injured. However, Broguy thought he could creep into the camp once the guards in the watchtowers to the north were killed or distracted, and he could determine which huts were occupied and which weren't. This was to ensure that any stolen goods or treasure would remain untouched. He could also travel from hut to hut and lock any doors, to maximise confusion and prevent at least some of the goblins from escaping burning huts.

The group set themselves ready. Grimni in the wood on the north side of the path into the camp, Wanda and Shanorin to the south where her magic missiles could reach and hurt the goblins. Broguy, Findor and Katniss set themselves up in the woods to the north of the camp. Findor and Katniss took up sentry positions in trees where they could see into the camp, and could fire on the goblins at the watchtowers, while Broguy set himself up close to the northwestern watchtower, knowing that once the goblins were taken care of, he could climb over and enter the camp.

Ready, the party waited till twilight to begin their attack.
GM
 GM, 261 posts
Sat 27 Jun 2020
at 08:32
Scouting the Goblins
Findor had taken Snowy, Wanda's owl with her, and when he wanted the others to begin their attack he would release the owl and Snowy would fly to Wanda. Ready, both he and Katniss targeted one one of the watchtowers and released their arrows. Findor's shot caught a goblin through it's neck, and it stood for a moment, a look of astonishment on its face, before it dropped. Katniss' missile piereced the head of the other goblin, a difficult shot at that range. Wordlessly, the second goblin also fell.

The pair waited a few moments to check that the other goblins patrolling inside along the palisade's perimeter had not noticed. The closest seemed in deep conversation and had not heard the arrows' flight or the sudden fall of their comrades. Findor moved through the wood and climbed another tree so that he could see the northeastern watchtower and its occupants, and put it was within range of his bow. As they did Broguy began to climb across a tree branch that overhung the palisade, and quietly dropped to the ground inside the goblin's stockade.

Findor targeted the goblins in the far watchtower, and loosed his first arrow at the same time that Katniss targeted her own enemies. Signalling for Broguy to move into position so that he could climb the palisade, the two archers began to rain death on the goblins in the northern watchtowers. The goblins fell in the second watchtower, again unnoticed by their comrades. But the third watchtower was a little further away than the pair had calculated and Findor's first arrow thudded into the protective wooden wall just as Katniss' found its mark. As one goblin fell, the second looked leaned forward to see what had made the noise - and its cry of alarm was brief as two arrows from the pair of archers found their mark. Unfortunately, one of the heavily armoured goblins was close enough and had heard the cry. In horror, Findor and Katniss watched as the goblin alerted his companions and moved quickly to check what had happened in the third watchtower, calling out in goblin at their fallen comrades, waiting for a response. They had hoped to have remained undetected for a little longer, but their cover was blown and their assault had been noticed. They turned their attentions to the goblins, now alert, on the ground in the camp. The goblins were small and moved quickly, and with the need to fire arrows as quickly as possible, both Katniss and Findor began missing their targets. Realising the element of surprise was lost, Findor released Snowy sending the familiar owl to Wanda as the pre-arranged singal for her to begin their assault on the gate.

Broguy had climbed the tree, and in an uncharacteristic act of bravery, jumped over the palisade and into the compound. Unfortunately, with the sudden rush of activity, one of the goblin patrols noticed movement and began shouting and running towards him. He hid amongst the supporting beams and structure of the watchtower, and began a fight to the death against the foul creature. He thrust with the dagger he had taken from Snazzbog, one of the fallen goblins, and slashed at the goblin. The creature evaded his first few blows, landing one of its own and slicing deep into Broguy's flesh. In anger, the halfling swiped his dagger up and caught the creature deep in its stomach, the blade angled up towards it lungs and heart. The creature fell, and Broguy rushed towards one of the nearby wooden huts to find cover, and deal with any goblins that might be inside.

Other goblins saw the running halfling and rushed towards him, the camp now in total upheaval and goblins rushing out of buildings and looking for the enemy. Katniss covered the northern side of the camp, and had regained her accuracy. Seeing goblins rushing towards Broguy, she gave them something to consider as her rain of arrows felled first one, then another, then another of the goblins. Confused as to where the threat lay, they separated and rushed at Broguy as individuals, not as a group. This suited the halfling and he was able to dispatch the goblins quickly before they could swarm him. Unfortunately, the plucky little fellow was not able to avoid all of the goblins' blows and found that he was forced to retreat back to the watchtower, blood pouring from a number of deep slashes and injuries. Finding a few moments of peace, he rummaged in his pack and retreived the healing potions that he had secured there earlier. Drinking the draught, he felt the warmth of the healing magics flow through his body, and saw his own flesh knitting together as the wounds closed. He climbed into the watchtower, and used that defensive position against the goblins, throwing two of his daggers at approaching goblins and stabbing another in the face as it tried to climb onto the platform.

Findor on the other hand found that his former accuracy was eluding him. Covering the northeastern point of the camp, goblins swarmed to the watchtower and he was able to cut a number of them down. But a couple regained the defensive position and began firing their volley of arrows from their shortbows back into the forest. But the range was too far, and the goblins were firing into the twilight dimmed darkness of the forest not knowing exactly where their enemies were, or how many there were. Arrow after arrow was launched into the camp, and goblins fell as they rushed from hut to hut trying to get into a position to retaliate. And then disaster struck. Findor fired an arrow that narrowly missed a goblin, and reached for another shaft only to find his quiver empty. A moment later Katniss fired her last arrow, felling yet another goblin. Findor looked over, impressed, at the human archer and gestured that they needed to move to enter the camp. He hoped that Wanda and the others had started their assault and were keeping the goblins suppressed in the south of the camp, otherwise their assault would result in their death. But they couldn't leave Broguy alone in the camp without cover.

Without the cover of the arrows, Broguy was rushed by three goblins who tried to clamber up the rope ladder to reach the platform where he was hiding. He slashed the face of one goblin, forcing the creature to spit and duck, allowing the halfling to slice the ropes that held the ladder in place. Realising too late that it was about to lose its grip, the goblin raised its head and lifted its dagger - just as the rope ladder slipped away and the creature screamed as it fell nearly ten feet to the dirt below, landing heavily. The other two goblins gibbered in their native tongue and both began using the structural support beams and legs of the watchtower to begin their climb. Realising he could strike at either of them for now, the wood of the platform blocking any attack he might have made, he grabbed at one of the crude looking shortbows that the dead goblins had with them, and fired a single shaft at the injured goblin below him. The arrow pierced the foul creature, and it collapsed to the dirt, trying to crawl away in its final death throes.

The two goblins were able to climb the watchtower, and reached the platform together. Broguy rushed at one of them, preventing it from gaining a foothold on the platform itself, and slashing wildly at it with the magical dagger. He hoped he could kill it, or knock it back, so that there would only be one goblin to face on the platform - but he was no warrior, and his slashing attack was light. The goblin, hurt and bleeding, slashed back narrowly missing the halfling - but the creature was firmly rooted to the platform as its partner clambered over the wall of the tower and hissed in anticipation of the attack. Suddenly an arrow pierced the goblin's neck and, surprised, it gurgled on its own blood as the goblin collapsed. With renewed energy, Broguy slashed again at the goblin this time stabbing the creature and forcing it off the platform, and tumbling to its death on the ground below. Looking across the camp, he saw Findor and Katniss and used the trees nearby and had themselves jumped into the compound. Findor had pulled the magical longsword he'd acquired, its flame lighting up the darkness. And Katniss was on one knee, having pulled one of her arrows from a dead goblin and fired to help Broguy out. Findor rushed towards Broguy to protect his friend, just as a number of goblins rushed from the darkness towards where he had been, leaving Katniss to cover their back. She dropped her longbow and drew her longsword, entering into a grim fight against the three creatures. Findor glanced behind him as he ran to cut off the goblins that were approaching Broguy, and saw Katniss was bleeding, but had already slain two of her enemies. The third died as he turned his attention back to where he was going. But the way to the southern end of the camp was clear, and Findor found that he and Broguy could move without being challenged.

Findor rushed to the south to help the others attacking there, while Broguy quickly searched around the huts for other enemies. Katniss soon joined him, and the two realised that they had killed all of the goblins that had moved to the north to engage them. In the center of the camp they found a deep looking pit and, peering over the side, found two bloodied and tired looking ogres inside. The ogres shouted up threats in the common tongue, that if they weren't released they would kill everyone, but neither Katniss nor Broguy felt threatened. They didn't look a threat, let alone capable of climbing of out the pit. Broguy began to bargain with the ogres, negotiating with them what it would take for them to release the ogres rather than just leaving them to their deaths. After a few moments even the slow-witted creatures realised that the halfling and his human companion were their only hope in getting out the pit, and their death threats stopped. They agreed they would not harm any of the group or their friends in exchange they would release the ogres and help them escape, provided the ogres helped them slay any of the goblins that had imprisoned them. Gladly the two ogres agreed at the chance for some revenge, and Broguy and Katniss pushed two wooden table down into the pit. The ogres angled the tables against the pit walls and slowly climbed out. Only close up did Broguy and Katniss realise how close the ogres were to exhaustion - and death. They explained they were heading south to help their friends, and the ogres could clear up any of the goblins that they found still alive.

Findor rushed to the south to find a scene of utter carnage. He had known that Wanda had found a wand that allowed her to fire an arrow of pure magical force at her enemies, but hadn't realised just what a powerful item it was. As he watched a number of heavily armed goblins and hobgoblins rushed from a large, well maintained hut (he presumed that it was the camp leader's hut or the communal hall), only for her to wave the wand and Findor saw three flashes of movement launch from the wand tip and exploded into the bodies of the rushing creatures. One fell, the other two looked bloodied and badly injured. A second flick of her wand and another three mystical missiles impacted on the last two hobgoblins, and both fell having never even seen the sorceress they were trying to defend against. Pausing for but a moment to assess the situation, Findor counted at least a dozen, perhaps two dozen, goblinoid bodies scattered along the souther camp palisade and around the camp entrance. Movement caught his eye, and he realised that Grimni had cut some of the rope bindings and pulled the wooden logs that were being used as a barricade away from the entrance, allowing him and Shanorin to enter the camp.

Grinning, Findor indicated that he was heading to the large hut, and he rushed forward. Unfortunately, in his haste he didn't wait for the others to support his assault. Flinging open the door, hoping to find treasure, Findor was greeted by the leaders of the camp. Three heavily armoured goblins, one insane looking goblin wearing nothing but a loincloth and carrying a dagger dripping with a thick, dark substance. A brutish looking hobgoblin was stood beside another goblin, and judging by the gold that this one wore in decoration, this was the goblin leader. It pointed and hissed at Findor and the goblin warriors rushed forward along with the cackling, mad goblin. Findor retreated and tried to close the doors to slow their assault but he was two slow. In a blur of movement two of the goblins smashed through the door, their axes biting deep into Findor's flesh, and the elven ranger felt his legs collapse from under him. As he fell to the ground, the insane goblin jumped on top of him and, rather than stabbing at him with his poisoned weapon, he tried to bite and consume the fallen elf. As his senses began to fade, he heard a familiar roar and Grimni charged at the attacking goblins. They had been too focused on Findor, and turned too slowly to the dwarf's attack. His axe cleaved one almost in two, and the follow-up smashed into the goblin's chest pushing it back. Feeling the goblin on him biting his ear, something smashed into it and the insane goblin's lifeless body was flung off him. Blackness threatened him, but he felt something, someone, put a hand on his smashed body and the familiar warmth of healing energies entered his body - as Shanorin ignored the enemies around her and rushed to his side to cast a healing spell on him. Wanda stood with her wanda raised having fired another group of magical missiles into the fray. Grimni stepped between Shanorin and the two standing goblins, smashing his axe into the injured goblin then slashing it, cleaving it across the last standing goblin and slaying it where it stood.

Shanorin helped Findor to his feet, and checked him over. Her healing magics had removed some of the wounds that he had received, but they had been near fatal wounds, and they had not completely healed on his body. She pushed a second healing spell onto his body, and the wounds fully closed restoring him to full health.

Broguy and Katniss rushed round the side of the large hut as the group dusted themselves off and readied themselves for entering the hut. As they readied themselves, Findor rushed forward without thinking. Opening the door, he peered inside to see a number of goblins and hobgoblins inside. They seemed to be ready and protecting a glowing circle on the floor where two larger goblins were stood, evil grins on their faces. Realising he was alone, Findor stepped back but the goblins rushed forward and were upon him as he tried to close the door behind him. They stabbed him, cutting him down where he stood and one jumped on his prone form and began biting him. But the goblins had overstretched themselves, and Findor's comrades rushed forward. Grimni slammed into the goblins and, without thought for his own safety, slashed his axe from one side to the other. Both crazed goblins fell, their blood covering Findor as he lay dying on the floor. With a shout Grimni rushed into the room to attack the creatures inside.

Shanorin was suddenly beside Findor's form, her hands channelling forth divine healing energies that, when placed on Findor's broken form felt warm. Soon the warmth had spread through his body, the deep, bloody gashes closing and healing before her eyes. With a groan he regained consciousness, the pain of his wounds easing, life returning to his limbs. The others arrive, and as a group they rushed into the wooden building. They entered to find the bloodied bodies of a number of goblins and hobgoblins lying dead or dying on the floor. Grimni was surrounded, his axe smashing into one goblin then the next, as he made his way closer to the glowing magical circle on the floor. Findor rushed forward, trying to reach one of the goblins who looked to be casting a spell and in doing so he stepped into the circle. He felt a flash of pain and staggered to his knees - realising that there was a creature flying in the circle. The creature tried to attack Findor's eyes and face as he desperately tried to fight it off, but the creature was too small and was able to avoid the swings and thrusts of his sword.

Katniss fired her bow, taking down a few of the enraged goblins, and Shanorin was able to smash one with her mace. Even Broguy was able to stab his daggers into one of the creatures. The tide of the battle turned, and as one they watched with alarm as, once again, Findor struggled to protect himself against an invisible foe. But as the others rallied to his side the creature, some sort of small demon, flew high into the rafters above them and vanished from sight.

With the fight being over, the group healed their wounds and considered what had happened. Checking the bodies of the dead, they found that the one they had identified as the leader had vanished.

They returned to the pit where two ogres were held captive. After some discussion they learned that the ogres were a part of a tribe that lived in the hills to the east, and their leader had taken them to the north, to an ancient stone circle, where they digged and found a wand that was in the form of a hand. They had been attacked by a large number of skeletons, but had fought them back and had left. However as they crossed the road to hide in the forest before heading south, the ogres were attacked by a large number of goblins. While they were able to fight them off, a number of them were hurt and injured and they were stunned and captured. The goblins were able to take the wand and the two ogres as prisoners, and returned tot his camp where they were forcing the ogres to fight with each other for sport.

The party released the ogres, fed them with some of the meat that they had cooked, and allowed them to rest for the night before seeing them safely on their way. They had the ogres agree to leave in peace and avoid conflict on their travels south, avoiding any and all settlements. They gave them enough meat from the goblin camp to feed them on their journey. The only thing they asked was that the ogres helped move all of the dead into the pit and help burn the bodies. They left the goblin bodies burning and headed back to Newkeep to report to the mayor.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:10, Sun 15 Nov 2020.