I’m still on the road with the people I started on the caravan with. There’s Stephanie, a somewhat crazed halfling with a weapons fixation and a truly terrifying tendency towards sudden surprise stabbings; “Kate” a city-born elf rebelling against her parents, apparently by setting things on fire; “Dave”, whose real name I have no concept of the ability to spell, is a half-dragon fighter; and Brek is a previously sensible dwarf.
We’ve been hired to guard the caravan, but have gotten involved in assayer’s guild politics which mean we’re now on the trail of some armour made from a mystical substance. Kate appears to think that this substance drives people irrational, but I suspect that’s an elven prejudice thing and it just drives people capitalist. Either way, there’s a faction of the guild who want to mine and sell it for all it’s worth, and a faction who want to study it. Both are currently stymied by the fact that the big delivery of the stuff that was due in to Gradfort was captured by goblins. We’ve now been hired to recover as much as we could.
So, we follow the tracks out of the city and off into a random dirt track in the forest, come to a clearing, continue down the path where we find the remains of the cart they stole the stuff from – and a dead goblin – and then doubled back to the clearing, where I got to try the ritual Candor taught me to put together a camp site with the aid of sprites. Up until now, we’ve been sleeping under the wagons or in forts, and before that I rarely left the city. Kate decided to attempt to get back to her eldrin roots – quite literally – and started talking to the trees. We put people up on guard and the rest of us slept. My watch was quiet as the grave, fortunately.
Notably, and this is partly to remind myself of “things to do next time”, one of the things we did not do was check what had killed the goblin, otherwise we might have been a bit more wary, but as it was it was still dark when Kate heard something suspicious and woke up Brek, who confirmed something was up – he’s more outdoorsy than any of us, despite Kate’s pretensions – who woke the rest of us up.
So, there I was, in nightshirt and boots, holding my song-blade and looking every inch the respected bard, when the fucking vines started attacking us.
Goblins? yeah, done goblins. Quite a lot recently, as it happens, both in pre- and post-death forms. Dragonlings, snakes, shape-shifters. Still, I was expecting more to be attacked by fauna than flora; I dived back into my tent to find my chain-mail and get dressed in it. By the time I’d got back out and shook it down around me, Brek was up to his eyes in vine and another was snaking towards me, half dead from having encountered Stephanie on the way. It caught me once, but a couple of piercing insults took it the rest of the way to its chosen arboreal abyss – I’ve no idea how insulting vines to death actually works, but I don’t question the magic and it doesn’t question me – and healed Brek as he cut and slashed his way out and Kate set up her useful field of fire that incinerated everyone in it. Eventually, and after some strenuous effort on everybody’s part, we’d got most of them knocked out or dead, when a dryad stepped out of a tree in order to aid us. Of course, none of us knew it was a dryad until Brek told us, but with the dryad’s assistance we cleaned up the clearing.
The dryad thanked us for our assistance, and we thanked her for hers, and this went on for a little while until we asked about the goblins. Apparently they were logging part of the forest a way further on, and the dryads would arrange a path between us and them in the morning when they were likely to be dead drunk. We promised to take the alcoholic haze out of that description, and retreated back to bed until morning.
In the morning there was a path that appeared to have been there for years leading directly out of our clearing, and there was breakfast, and then we packed up and wandered up the path until the stench of a goblin camp alerted us to the existence of the goblin camp. While we hid out behind some logs, I sent out my familiar – Did I mention I’d got a cat familiar? I picked it up on the trail – to look around the camp. undetected, the cat picked out six goblins drunk and asleep around the fire, another dozen in some kind of barracks, and a couple on watchtowers, two goblins in the entire camp were awake, and there were a number of barrels of alcohol outside a makes-shift still in a hut,the barrels were mostly empty. Stephanie creeped in after the cat, and managed to take out five completely silently before one noticed her. Halfway though the final one, though, she was spotted, and didn’t quite manage to kill her target straight off.
A few days ago, maybe a couple of weeks at this point, Stephanie had picked up a parasite of some description, the result of which – as we’d found out that morning – was that she could now shoot this horrible viscous goo from her arms. It was a bit horrible, and wasn’t without side effects, but it meant that she could shoot the goblin target in progress in the face with this stuff. I’d imagine that was a particular nasty way to die.
I took a suitably heroic pose on top of the pile of logs we were standing on, and insulted the mother of the goblin on the watchtower, who happened to have a very large longbow, and was shooting two arrows at a time, which I felt was excessive. Fortunately, he missed. Meanwhile Kate was blasting people from her position hidden behind the still, and Dave had blocked the door to the barracks and was sweeping his sword though anyone who attempted to pass him. The tower-guarding goblin took a couple more potshots at me, and while he only hit with one – yay chainmail – the logs I was standing on took a battering, and I was attempting to keep my balance as the ropes that held them frayed and snapped. Meanwhile, some of the goblins trapped in the barracks escaped out the back near the watchtowers, and one made it as far as the still.
This bit I’m still putting together a bit, as I was still balancing on these logs to some extent, but as far as I can tell, at almost exactly the same time, Stephanie got a grappling hook around one of the legs of a watchtower, and pulled. The tower fell towards the escaping goblins, depositing thelongbowman I’d been insulting on top of them. As she did that, Brek – who you will remember is the sensible, nature knowing, sane one – decided to throw one of the remaining barrels of alcohol into the still. There was a crash as it hit the torch, and a “Whomp” as it caught light. Brek screamed that he’d just done that.
I regained my balance on the logs, and rode the avalanche to the middle of the clearing; Kate ran full pelt from her position beside the still – which was about to go bang – into the corner of the clearing, Brek ran straight to hide behind the barracks, and Dave picked up the goblin in front of him and threw it onto the pile of goblins which had been hit by the watchtower, then ran to Brek. The remaining goblin on the remaining watchtower then decided to give up and launched himself from the thirty foot tower onto Stephanie, who didn’t quite move fast enough and was impaled by the falling goblin. I healed Stephanie as best I could, ran into the barracks and activated my teleporting amulet, swapping places with Kate, who then used her flaming fire field on the pile of goblins that had been under the tower.
There was an earth shattering kaboom.
The walls of the still expanded outwards slightly, and then blew into flaming splinters which evaporated as they spread out. The flat roof bowed upwards and then shot upwards, landing in pieces around an nearby, causing small fires where they landed, and the inside of where the building had stood was afiery inferno.
Stephanie was protected by a tree and a shield of dead goblin meat, both of which basically evaporated. The barracks ceiling collapsed, narrowly missing Kate, and Brek and Dave were protected by the barracks. I wasn’t quite so lucky. My perfect view of the massive explosion had the downside that the barrels were thrown straight at me, and I was hit by two of them, which hurt. a few brief skirmishes later we cleared up the rest of the goblins, and now the others are putting out the fires whilst me and Stephanie recover a bit.
Soon, we’ll have to explain to the dryads why we set the forest on fire, and after that we’ll have explain why we’re giving back what we can find of the armour in a somewhat molten state where it’s not smelling of roast goblin.
Meanwhile, I think I should sit down a while.