This day was a doosy. I gathered my items and readied myself for the day. The five of us gathered at the inn for breakfast early morning. I was refreshed and ready to go, as were most… of the others, the remaining were sleepy eyed, trying to shake off sandman’s lure. After a quiet meal we headed out. The day was an uneventful walk along the same path I took to get to Drellins Ferry. I was grateful of the cooler temperature, a mild day that is hardly noticed or remembered. A short while after high noon we came upon the farm.
I left the group and approached the farm alone to speak with the resident about the details of our mission. I knocked as I did previously and the same old face appeared. “I have returned as I promised, replenished and with assistance. I have a few details to ask before we continue.” His face didn’t look happy to see me. He cut me off and spoke quickly, “Last night dey took the rest of da goats. I have nothing now. Get dem back fer me and kill em theevin bastards? They an’t gotten far.”
I was taken back, and felt as if I had let him down. “Sir can I ask your name, I seem to have lost my manners last I saw you.”
“Vaulk.” He said in a rudish manner.
“Ok Vaulk, I am sorry to ask, but my compatriots, some look for payment. I do not ask for monetary gain, and know your plight. For the safety of our journey we need these individuals. Can you spare anything upon our return of your livestock?”
He wasn’t very happy about the question, but after a quick moment he decided, “Alright I’ll give you guys 100 when you can get em back.”
“Alright that is fare of you, now about this goblin business…”
“I didn’t see em but you an see tracks in da barn area. Come find me when you get back, I prolly be in the fields workin, gotta make food somehow.” He said as he donned his straw hat, and peered into his fields.
I then said farewell to Vaulk and spoke with my party. We headed to the barn where, we discovered, Onji had a good eye for tracking. He quickly found 2 sets of fresh tracks in the barn. And after a little more searching noticed none of any livestock. We spoke amongst ourselves about this realization. Why would there not be any tracks from the livestock? Did the hobgoblins have something special going on, or is Vaulk up to something. Some wanted to immediately interrogate the farmer. My thoughts were the same as most of the group, to keep this to ourselves and find out more about the situation. So we locked in on the 2 sets of tracks and followed them west.
An hour west of the farm the tracks converged with more tracks. Onji studied the tracks more closely and discerned they were goblinoid, total group of four. Oversoul lingered a ways from the party, looking for something to strike, and noticed another set of tracks running parallel to the hobgoblin tracks. Onji observed the large foot prints. “Giants, don’t see many of these around here. I wonder if he was following, being followed, or if they are together?”
Daz’s eye’s flared and Oversoul drew his short swords slowly, surveying the countryside. We may be into a good fight here soon, but I had confidence in our ragtag group.
We continued along our path and entered a dense, dark forest. The tracks lead us to a clearing, with smaller brush and grasses, with a large rocky cliff jutting into the sky. One section of the large clearing sloped downwards into a large cave opening. Our eyes quickly focused on the piles of animal carcasses discarded all over. All in various stages of death, some newly torn apart, some teaming with flies and bloated from the sun, and some rotting from weeks of decomposing.
From the cover of the forest we could make out three hobgoblins cutting away at some of the meat leftovers, and one hobgoblin strolling into the cave entrance. We watched for a few moments, and started to formulate a plan. Before we could take a good inventory of ideas another hobgoblin walked from out of the cave. This one commanded respect, he was a brute. And judging from his garments was of some renown in the goblinoid tribe. A few faint sounds of livestock could be heard from the cave, we decided to make our move.
Our plan was for Onji to act as an angry farmer searching for his sheep. He played the part well, and even threw stones at the hobgoblins. Once he got their attention the impatient Oversoul went after the goblins that stuck to the cave entrance. So our battle didn’t start as planned, but all turned out in the end.
I was very happy with the group that accompanied me on this task. In the past I have hired henchmen that would run at the first sign of danger. Some sadly met their match, deservingly or not. But all these folks held their own.
I was very glad to have trusted Daz. His mastery of warlock magic served us well. He dished out more than his fare share of the damage and kept the battle on our side. His use of the dark magic was fired with deadly accuracy and precision.
Oversoul, while very impatient with the plan, took on two of the goblinoids himself and held them in check nicely. His furiousness was welcome, and usefulness with the two short swords in his claws.
Solana was almost at home in the middle of the battlefield. She strolled in between the groups hitting and pounding, waiting for any of her companions to need her blessings. The elf kept us alive, and without her help we would not have survived the encounter.
Onji was a sight to behold. I have never worked with a monk before, but knew of their powerful capabilities. But to work beside him was breathtaking. To move so fluid and with such power and form, was like a dance. To be able to lunge, kick, punch, & strike with his staff and unprotected hands. To hear the strikes crack, thud in all the right places made him a dangerous foe.
During the battle we divided the 4 goblins into 2 groups. Onji and I took the larger goblin along with another soldier. Oversoul took on the other two alone. Solana and Daz performed their work from afar. Daz firing eldritch bolts at whom he deemed necessary, and Solana waited to administer her healing to those who needed it.
The battle had gone to good blows on each side. Shortly after Onji and I cut down the first hobgoblin a loud roar came from inside the cave. A huge brute of a giant came strolling out to see what the ruckus was about. We all noticed the giant, and Onji quickly started speaking to the giant in his own tongue.
Trying to persuade the giant that we were of no harm, while dodging attacks from the large goblin captain, Daz fired a bolt at the giant. The shot pissed off both Skrawl the giant and Onji. Skrawl then went to smash his new enemy while Onji tried to calm it back down, to no avail.
The goblinoids almost on cue, and almost beaten, all ran for the woods to let the giant finish the battle for them. All of us then went after the giant, which was a good fight all himself. Twice I was knocked clean off my feet and back a number of feet in a pile with Oversoul from attacks from the beast. That club was mighty fast for its size. Skrawl also pounded me once into the ground with his great club. I was crushed from within badly, when Solana came to my aid. The last few attacks he had on me I was much more ready.
After a good amount of gashes from oversoul, some broken ribs from Onji, and some burned flesh from Daz we felled the monster. He was a tough cookie, but we had a good amount of ability on our side and we found we could work well together.
We took a few moments to gather our thoughts and wipe the dust from our clothes. Oversoul and I had a moment of respect for the battering we both took. Onji leapt onto the bloodied body and dug in the giant pockets, he was not surprised to find them empty. Daz searched the hobgoblin captain. Two small tanned leather pouches had a decent amount of gold in them. “Hey found some goodies!” 75gp each pouch.
We then made our way into the cave. It is very large, but not deep. The inside was full of bones and debris. Nothing was left in the caves to cause us any troubles so a few searched for any items left over from the giant or his friends. Amongst the rabble another larger pouch that held 75gp, 4 gems (Amethyst, Bloodstone, Golden Yellow Topaz, and Malachite), and a scroll. The scroll was written in giant tongue, in which Onji reads.
“Bring goblins to Red Hand. Come to where Wormsmokes and Witchwood meet. We will defeat the humans and build an empire.”
In another corner of the cave a rolled map is also found. The map has a written note that says, “Find good treasure at Vrath Keep. Secret.”
We gather our items, and make our way back to Vaulk the farmer. We arrive late in the day and sourly asks how we fared. I spoke carefully to him, told him the livestock was found and was lost. A giant in the area was being fed by hobgoblins, we couldn’t save your livestock. Vaulk was upset, but was ready for such a letdown. Grumbling he gives me 125gp fee, which Daz and Onji start to protest, as I cut them off for explanations later. I give him Avandra’s blessings and farewell. Vaulk is understandably angry, and shuts the door on our party.
I quickly turn to Daz and Onji and give them the reward gold given by Vaulk. “This isn’t the total amount agreed upon, but you should be able to get a bunch out of the gems, and you can split the other gold we found in the cave. Do not be discouraged with the gold you missed out upon, we also came out with a map. There could be more wealth hidden at this Vrath Keep. I like your guys’ abilities and I will travel to this keep with you to fulfill my promise to your payment. If you will have me. Should we do this together and see what it brings?”
Daz and Onji both know the answer looking at one another. Oversoul and Solana both await their decisions. “I’m game.” says the monk. “Count me in.” Replies the warlock.
And we all head back into Drellins Ferry to rest and restock for the treasures of Vrath Keep.