"Second Son of a Second Son" - An Aquerra Story Hour (*finally* Updated 04/19)

Rastfar

First Post
I laughed through the whole thing. That was fun stuff, and well written,...thanx.

Every little bit of information took several minutes of wrangling and re-wording and a few slaps and punches. It was hard work.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
That had me laughing aloud. Poor Telemakhos....
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Rastfar said:
I laughed through the whole thing. That was fun stuff, and well written,...thanx.

Glad you're liking it, and glad you're having fun in the game!

Rastfar said:
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
That had me laughing aloud. Poor Telemakhos....

Poor Telémahkos? Poor goblin! ;)
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #14 – “Skunk Cabbage Ambush” (part 1 of 3) (1)

“Uh-oh…” Falco called the others ahead to take a look at what he saw. The signers of the Charter of Schiereiland had left the grove behind to follow the goblin trail back to the fork and perhaps set up another ambush, or find their way to the goblin camp, but instead they found the fork blocked off. Small trees and brush had been cut to create an obstacle to the space beyond. They were fairly certain that goblins awaited them there.

Before coming this way, they had searched the signs of a fight at the watering hole to find lots of muddy patches of blood, and more of the rat-like skulls propped up on crude spears all along the area. There was nothing there to give them a clue of which way to go, except for a trail Falco had found of some large footed humanoid that broke off from the main group and returned to the gorge, instead of going up the goblin trail with the rest. They had followed the main trail back to the fork, and now found themselves facing the obstructed path.

“It’s a counter-ambush,” Telémahkos said.

“We should withdraw,” Timotheus said.

“I agree,” Markos nodded.

“Probably, but we should make certain that there are goblins actually there and determine their number,” Bleys replied.

“What does the number matter if they are entrenched in defensive positions and have the advantage?” Telémahkos asked.

The watch-mage did not reply, but began to climb a nearby tree, hoping to get a better perspective on the potential ambush site. He froze as he reached the second tier of branches as a snorting sound came up out of the bushes.

“Was that a snore?” Victoria asked with disbelief.

“We should just get out of there. I don’t like this,” Telémahkos said. Suddenly, he heard Bleys’ voice in his ear. “I saw the leaves move. Something is definitely there…” The watch-mage had also cast his spell on Falco so the two of them could relay messages to him as they scouted the situation.

Sighing, Telémahkos handed his crossbow to Tymon and drew the Steel Whip. After a quick word with Falco, he began to creep through the brush around towards the left side of the fork, while the scout took the right. Not too long after, they all noticed movement in the brush, and heard another muffled snort.

“Come back,” Bleys told them both as he saw how far back the movement reverberated. He did not have to tell Telémahkos twice.

“We need to get out of here,” Telémahkos said when he returned. He looked up at Bleys, still in the tree.

“I am working on it,” Bleys replied, as he hung off a branch and lowered himself down.

“Stay alert, they know we’re here. They might attack at any moment,” Telémahkos said.

“We might not be able to outrun them,” Timotheus said, his voice a mix of eagerness for battle, and worry about being caught in a tactically unsound spot.

“We’ll look for a defensible spot as we go,” Telémahkos replied. And with that, they left, going back up the trail the way they came. But there was no particularly defensive spot anywhere nearby, and after withdrawing nearly a mile and perceiving no pursuit, they decided to slow their hustle, and march out another mile or so before deciding what to do next.

“What if we go visit the rat-kin?” Telémahkos asked.

“To what end?” Laarus asked, his pallid face scorched dark red in places by their days traveling in the sun. The priest of Ra did not hide his disdain at having to flee.

“We might get them to help us,” Telémahkos said. “They are the enemies of the goblins, and if they turn out to be kobolds as we suspect, then Tymon will be able to talk to their in their tongue and explain our offer.”

“What would that be?” Bleys asked.

“They help us or we raid their caves and kill them all,” Telémahkos replied, matter-of-factly. “We can give them the goblin prisoner as a show of good faith, but if they help us against the goblins they can control this area. Or at least, we can tell them that, and afterwards if we want to finish them off, we can consider it then.”

Laarus frowned, but Victoria was passive as usual. “We should go straight to the goblin camp and see if we can catch those hobgoblins,” the priest of Ra said, rubbing his scalp through his closely cropped hair. “This is an issue of time. They may not stay around long enough, and we will lose any hope of following them back to wherever the source of their schemes may be.”

Telémahkos shook his head, and Markos smirked.

“Perhaps the prisoner knows of another route,” Victoria suggested.

Sighing, Telémahkos ungagged the goblin and began the arduous process of communicating with it.

“It says of another way it can lead us to the camp, but that we have to go after nightfall,” Telémahkos turned to the others. “He calls it a secret way.”

The young nobles now began to discuss how reliable the word of the goblin might be.

“Why at night? The goblins are active at night,” Bleys asked.

“He says it is dangerous because of other monsters in the day,” Telie replied.

“What kind of monsters?” Timotheus asked. “How is it secret?”

“It is impossible to understand him on those issues,” Telémahkos was obviously tired of talking to the thing. “It said something about hiding and not being liked by its own people, and I understand why, it is a rotten cowardly little thing.”

“If that is the case, then why should we let it lead us?” Bleys asked.

“It knows we will kill it if it lies,” Telémahkos replied.

“We are going to kill it anyway,” the watch-mage said, coldly.

“We will have to trust that it values its life more than it is loyal to its people,” Laarus said with disgust. “Evil creatures of this kind can usually be counted on to act in such a manner. As I have already said, I see this as a time sensitive issue. We need to take the chance for the sake of the north.”

“Okay, then if we have to go that way, we have to go that way, but if we have to wait for nightfall, what are we going to do until then?” Timotheus asked. They had begun to walk down towards the plain through the dry forest, not far from the opening the King Stones gorge. “How shall we spend our time so close to the cave of the rat-kin? Anyone? Anyone at all?”

After stopping and pulling out the map of the King Stones, they oriented themselves to it, and Timotheus noted a cave marked as ‘empty’. “If this place is correctly marked, we might want to look into making that bolt hole,” he said. “I mean, a place to retreat to if the need arises.”

As they walked, Telémahkos continued to drag the goblin along on his makeshift leash. It whined as they came out into the open and walked to the western side of the u-shaped gorge. Telémahkos jerked the leash, and the goblin turned to look at him with fear-filled rheumy eyes.

“If you stay quiet and obedient you should survive this encounter,” Telie said to it in the hobgoblin tongue. It tried to grin at him, but choked on its gag and coughed, and then stumbled.

The foliage at the bottom of gorge had grown a great deal since the map in their possession had been made. There were fragrant dogwoods in tight clusters that obscured the view to the far end of the gorge floor, and covered where the first cave entrance was supposed to be, according to the map. A blanket of petals drying in the sun rippled in the yellowed grass. There was much more moisture down here, as if all the rain in the area drained down into the gorge. The Signers marched in a long line along the steep gorge wall, looking up nervously at the plateau above where the map told them had something to do with ‘black orcs.’

Telémahkos handed Timotheus the end of the rope attached to the goblin, and his cousin handed it back to Dunlevey.

“Why do I have to hold it?” the hireling complained.

“Would you rather be up front fighting?”

“Yes,” Dunlevey smiled.

“Well, so would I, so you have to hold it,” Timotheus replied, throwing the bushy-haired warrior a playful elbow.

After Timotheus turned back to his place at the front of the marching order, Dunlevey handed the rope to Bleys, who took it without a word.

Telémahkos led the way, as they all crept beneath the trees in a line; the taller members of the group crouched awkwardly. Falco and Timotheus were close behind him and could see what he did, but everyone stopped abruptly. They were at what should have been a cave entrance, but the crack into the northern side of the gorge was obstructed with large stones and cemented with hard mud and tree branches.

“Ohp! Well, I guess we’ll just go kill goblins then,” Timotheus said. Telémahkos turned and glared at his cousin and shook his head.

“There is another entrance marked on the map sixty or seventy paces further in,” Telémahkos explained, and began to lead the way once again. Sure enough, not too much further they saw the narrow crack in the wall. Trees were growing all around it, and a large stone seemed to divide the cave mouth into two entrances, one side much too narrow for a human to slip through without trouble. Trees were growing above the entrance on the ridge wall as well, as here it was not as steep. Telémahkos whispered to Falco to look for tracks, and he did not have to look very hard. There were small humanoid prints, like large upright rats all over the place.

“Call out to them,” Telémahkos told Tymon. “Tell them we have come to make them an offer they would be fools to refuse. Tell them they can help us or they can be destroyed…”

“Uh… Okay…” Tymon gulped, and then began to call out in a yapping and hissing language, cupping his hands to either side of his mouth to project his voice. Those at the front of the line could hear scurrying from within. Tymon called out again, and a few moments later a voice came yapping back.

“That makes no sense,” Tymon finally said when the yapping was done.

“What did they say?” Telémahkos asked.

“Um… I guess a rough translation would be, ‘Get in line…’” Tymon replied meekly.

“Ugh… Okay, ask them who we are in line behind…”

Tymon yapped some more, adding a low howl or two to punctuate his questions. The yapping returned, and once again Tymon looked confused. “They are saying that if we go destroy the Ruk’Tuk and can bring back proof, they will consider giving us aid.”

“Ruk’Tuk?”

After a few more yaps back and forth, Tymon relayed that this tribe was the Tuk’Tuk, and the Ruk’Tuk were heretics who had abandoned the Rat God for worship of the Dark Mantis, but more recently had come under the rule of something they called ‘Malypies Smot Azeen’.

“What does that mean?” Telémahkos asked his servant, but Tymon shrugged. “It makes little sense to me. Something like, ‘the great green kobold lord monster.’”

“Oh that sounds pleasant,” Timotheus whispered with a wink.

“So they will not offer any help or information to aid in the battle against their enemies?” Telémahkos asked Tymon.

“All they keep saying when I ask is that they kill any they see,” Tymon replied. “It may just be beyond them to uh… be able to imagine being allied with adventurers. And they will not make any promises until the splinter tribe of heretics is killed…”

Telémahkos had Tymon relay some threats and promises, but the kobolds were having none of it, saying they did not understand the ‘crazy human words.’ Negotiation of a deal seemed beyond their feeble intellects.

“Help us or fight us!” Telémahkos called into the cave angrily. Tymon repeated a translation, but before he was done they could hear many kobold voices within, and a scurrying of feet.

“They are preparing for an attack,” Tymon said to Telémahkos.

The signers of the Charter of Schiereiland withdrew, unsure of what to do. Laarus of Ra knew little of the Dark Mantis, and nothing of Malypies Smot Azeen.

“I am not willing to get involved in some kobold religious schism,” Victoria said. “That is not what we came here for, and we have no assurances that going after these Ruk’Tuk will actually aid us in our main goal, which is the killing or capturing of those hobgoblin delegates.”

“Worthless kobolds!” Telémahkos swore.

“You tried really hard, that is all that matters,” Markos replied with obvious condescension. Telie snarled.

…to be continued…

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Notes:

(1) This session was played on Sunday, August 5th, 2007.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #14 – “Skunk Cabbage Ambush” (part 2 of 3)

Timotheus once again suggested checking the cave marked ‘empty’ on the map as a place to possibly hole up if necessary. The others grudgingly agreed, giving up on the idea of recruiting the rat-kin, but soon fell to arguing about the best way to approach the cave, which was slightly less than half way up the gorge’s western side, south of those marked as ‘shrine of the boar blood’. Telémahkos was concerned about walking out in the open beyond the dogwoods to the best place to climb up to it from directly below, but Timotheus was not sure if climbing from here and passing in front of the ‘black orc’ caves was a much better solution.

“If there are goblins on the lookout they will be able to see us make our way across the gorge floor,” Telémahkos warned.

“And if orcs come streaming out of the caves because we pass too close to them, we will be in a precarious position to fight,” Timotheus said.

The argument went round and round, with everyone giving an opinion, except Markos who seemed bored, and Bleys the Aubergine, whose placid face showed little. It was not until he began to march off across the gorge floor on his own that his opinion was known. The others followed him in a ragged line, Timotheus cursing the stubborn watch-mage under his breath.

They made their way up the gorge embankment, which had a couple of short awkward climbs, and soon were gathered outside the cave entrance. It was obscured by more flowering trees, though they looked sickly and dry. To the left of it was a cracked stone cover, long ago moved aside. It was weathered and covered with moss, and had crude runes scratched onto is flat side. About seven feet in the opening, a stone slab had been sunken from above to obstruct most of the way beyond. All there was left was about three feet of gap off the rock strewn floor.

Bleys the Aubergine cast comprehend languages and did his best to read the weathered runes on the broken seal. They told of a king of the Ah-Ree-Raa who battled the Sunrads, and was son of many more names than could be made out on the stone. He stepped into the cave, squeezing in with Timotheus and Telémahkos, as Victoria, Falco and Dunlevey kept watch. Laarus and Tymon were at the cave entrance.

The watch-mage cast radiant spark and sent the tiny spark under the stone slab. Timotheus crouched down and got a look at a widening cavern beyond. It seemed very damp, and they could an echoing drip. Meanwhile, Telémahkos borrowed a silver mirror from Victoria and adhered it to the end of his crowbar with some wax. Timotheus moved out of the way and he crouched down and shoved the crowbar under as Bleys willed the radiant spark back in their direction. As the light approached, Telémahkos heard an amused grunt and suddenly the mirror revealed a snaggletooth hairy face, but just as suddenly a large hairy hand grabbed the crowbar and pulled. Telémahkos reacted too slowly. Startled, it was yanked from his grasp even as he squeezed his grip, and he fell on his rear. Within he heard the amused grunt, like a laugh once again.

“Cover me, I’m going in there,” Timotheus said, beginning to crouch down, but Victoria put a hand on his shoulder.

“For a crowbar?” Victoria asked with wonder. “Obviously there are foes waiting on the other side. I respect bravery for it does honor to my god, but it would be foolish to crawl under there into their arms.”

“I just want to kill goblins,” Timotheus sighed, sitting in the dirt, leaning his arms on his bent knees.

“I wanted to attack the counter-ambush,” Laarus of Ra said. “It was not my wish to come here. I am still not sure what we are trying to accomplish by doing so…”

“You could not be more annoying, Laarus,” Timotheus did not bother to look up at the priest.

“I am not the one changing his mind all the time. I have been consistent in my opinions,” Laarus replied in a calm tone that bore no reproach. “The same could not be said about you…”

“If you want to be smug about something, Laarus… Find us something else worthwhile to do,” Timotheus said, getting back to his feet.

“I have already said what it was I thought we should do,” Laarus said, but the rest of the group grew tired of their arguing and made their way around the side of the gorge to another opening they could see from this one. It was the one marked ‘avoid’ on the map.

Laarus and Timotheus refocused their anger at each other towards the rest of their companions, as they made their way over.

“Cousin Markos, have you no opinion?” Laarus asked, as he arrived.

“No… I mostly feel apathetic. All this bickering has broken me…” Markos replied, with a curious mix of amusement and resignation.

Timotheus did not pause, but made his way to the front, pushing past Bleys.

“Would you like to go in front?” Bleys asked.

“That’s my job!” Timotheus snapped back.

The signers of the Charter of Schiereiland explored the cave beyond and found it went much deeper than they suspected. Carved corridors gave way to moist natural caverns that branched in all directions, and far to the left, they came to a large cavern holding shining water with huge patches of white and gray bat guano floating atop it. The ceiling was a writhing mass of bats clutching the stone among many stalactites. Bleys sent a radiant spark out across the cavern, and saw a raised stone platform that looked like a dais of some kind, with over-sized stone furniture atop it.

The goblin captive was silent when asked if it knew what this place was, jabbering nonsense when it was threatened. They went and explored some of the caverns back to the right and found they led to a maze of tiny rooms carved by years of dripping water. Everything had the green sheen of limestone.

“This place is too big to be used as a bolthole,” Timotheus complained. “There are too many ways that might hide another way in here. We can’t control the environment, which is the basis for good tactics in defense…”

Markos nodded.

They all went back to the large bat cavern again, but Laarus of Ra broke off from them and went back to watch the entrance, uninterested in exploring the dais. Markos followed him, shaking his head.

Victoria Ostrander of Anhur took an end of a rope and began to make her way across the shallow edge of the murky water. Timotheus held the other end. She made it more than halfway when the path became too treacherous. She slipped and splashed in the dirty liquid, staining her tunic and splattering her dark hair and white skin. The militant scrambled back to her feet, making more of a mess of herself and she barely made it back without falling again.

“Telémahkos should do it,” she said, but when Telie balked, Bleys volunteered. Timotheus and Victoria held the rope, which the purple-robed wizard tied around his waist. He carefully walked across, keeping his balance when his footing slipped, and eventually was able to climb up onto the stone platform, which was over five feet high. He tried the rope off around some heavy smashed rocks near the edge of the platform. Timotheus began to make his way across, clutching the rope.

As Tim climbed up onto the platform, Bleys let out a startled grunt and there was a sound like stone dropping on stone. The tall blond cousin looked up to see the strangest sight. There was a broken stalactite a couple of feet from the watch-mage, moving slowly away from the wizard. At first Timotheus thought it was rolling, but then he noticed how the point of it began to point up a bit and it scraped along lengthwise. The stalactite was just the stony outer shell of some kind of creature that hunted by dropping on things passing below it. However, it only got one chance to try, and was now slowly making way to the wall for the long slow climb back up.

“What the hell is that?” Tim asked, as Bleys stepped over and picked it up by its shell. The watch-mage turned and pointed the ‘broken’ end at the warrior to reveal the futile kicking of black crab-like legs within, and a small circular jutting mouth of jagged teeth, chewing dumbly.

“Dinner!” Bleys gave a rare smile, and then leapt reflexively as he heard something above him. Two more of the creatures crashed to the stone platform, the sound echoing out into the shadowy illumination beyond Bleys’ spell.

Bleys knocked on one off the side of the platform using the one the held in his hands, and it splashed into the water below, while Timotheus smashed another easily with his morningstar. As they began to walk the length of the platform to examine the over-sized stone furniture, another dropped and slammed heavily against Tim’s shield, which he had positioned over his head, while another clipped Bleys painfully in the shoulder, tearing his cloak and drawing a long line of blood underneath. Timotheus smashed it, as the other made it frantic attempt to reach the wall.

“I don’t think you need to kill them.” Bleys said, evenly, still holding the living specimen he had picked up.

“Do you want them to keep dropping on us?” Tim asked with a smirk.

“I see your reasoning, though at the rate they move we will be long gone before they are in a position to drop on us again,” Bleys replied.

Tim shrugged his shoulders.

“But yes, perhaps better to be safe…” The watch-mage said, and he smashed the creature’s shell open against the wall. He squeezed the writhing creature within beneath his boot and it popped.

The furniture was a cracked stone sarcophagus, old and filled with cobwebs and stained with lime. There was a throne built for someone at least ten feet tall, and the shattered remains of a table. There was nothing of value here, so the two of them made the treacherous journey back.

Out at the cavern by the entrance, Laarus of Ra was complaining to Markos about the group’s lack of focus when the others finally joined them. Frustrated by their lack of progress, they decided to rest for a few hours and then let the goblin captive lead them the ‘secret way’ to his tribe’s camp.

After a quick prestidigitation from Bleys to clean and dry her clothing, Victoria laid down for a quick nap, while the watch-mage cleaned and oiled his sabre and checked his bow for wear. Markos spent his time with his nose buried in a book. Laarus sat with his back to the wall, with his head down in prayer or deep thought, while Falco and Dunlevey talked in quiet tones a little deeper in the cave. Tymon fell asleep, while Timotheus and Telémahkos stood at the entrance looking out at the gorge and talking.

“We should have a leader,” Timotheus said quietly to his cousin.

Telémahkos’ eyes opened wide in exagerated surprise.

“It is the only way we are going to stop the arguments and the lack of focus,” Tim continued, pausing to cough up and spit out some lingering bog flu phlegm. “We change directions too easily… I am as guilty as anyone, so… How about Bleys?”

“Heh. Bleys goes off on his own as well… That is not very leader-like,” Telémahkos replied.

“But Bleys is not the leader yet,” Tim said. “If he is given this responsibility he may step up to it. Talk to him about it… Feel him out… You’re good at that…”

Telémahkos agreed.

“Hey! Did you see that?” Timotheus said, pointing to a cave entrance beyond the one they had tried before. It was one of the ones marked as ‘Shrine of the Boarblood’ on the map. Telémahkos looked and for a moment thought he saw a tall humanoid figure standing there looking in their direction, but then it was gone.

“Orc?” Telémahkos asked.

“I don’t know, but it is almost time to get going,” Timotheus said. “Let’s get everyone up and ready…”


…to be continued…
 
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handforged

First Post
I love the stalactite crabs! It would be a great recurring menace, perhaps in a fight room, constantly having to dodge them. Yikes! Can't wait to see what's next.

~hf
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #14 – “Skunk Cabbage Ambush” (part 3 of 3)

The goblin captive led them out of the u-shaped gorge of the King Stones, and to the west, marching along the edge of the great southern plateau, which the gorge was a great cleft in. Above them in that direction, the sparse wood gave way to tall brown jagged stones that made a natural wall that obscured what was beyond.

“I hope this is not the Baphomet Stone Maze,” Bleys commented. “For as I was warned of that place by Malcolm the Bronze, I will not go under any circumstances…”

“Why? What is there?” Laarus asked.

“He did not say exactly,” Bleys replied. “Only that there live there a race long thought extinct in most places in Aquerra.”

The goblin pointed out a narrow way up the rocky slope that made for some awkward scrambling for the larger or more heavily armored members of the group. At the top tall stones sunk into the earth made for winding paths through narrow ways. There was something oppressive about the place, and the way the light of the waxing moon made deep shadows at each intersection was unnerving. The goblin seemed really nervous, and frequently grabbed at the rope about its neck instinctually, pulling its hand away when Telémahkos gave it a hard yank. As they came to a place that branched off in three directions there was a wooden arch built across their path. At the center of it was carved oval frame surrounding a plaque with a stylized bullhead with silver sphere between its horns.

They stopped, and the goblin whimpered in its tongue, “No stop! No stop!” It pulled on the rope as if to goad Telémahkos to follow it.

“Anyone know what this means?” Telémahkos pointed to the symbol.

Hathor. Demigoddess, servant of Isis,” Victoria replied. Laarus of Ra nodded.

“That’s a good thing, right?” Timotheus asked, puzzled. The militant shrugged.

“Who lives here?” Telémahkos hissed at the goblin jerking the rope taught and dragging it over close to his reddening face.

“Two-foot aurochs” was the best translation Telémahkos could make from the reply and he passed it on to the others.

“Minotaurs? I thought there were no more minotaurs,” Laarus said. (1)

“There are some in the United Kingdom of Superior Families, and apparently there are some here as well that are best left unmolested,” Bleys replied. “This is the Baphomet Stone Maze, and I for one, am not going in… I suggest we all turn around and find another way.”

The palpable nervousness rose in all of them, and Falco hurried back the way they came to make sure the retreat was clear. Dunlevey drew his great sword and clutched it tightly in both hands. Tymon was licking his lips over and over and over, his eyes darting to the symbol of Hathor and then down to the ground, and then to Telémahkos.

“Why did you bring us this way? Is it not dangerous?” Telémahkos badgered the goblin and shook it, but it could hardly understand him, or him it.

“Yes. You big dumb noise,” It replied.

“Will they not come and kill us?” Telie asked, gesturing across his neck with a finger.

“Yes… Yes… Come to kill you, big dumb noise…” It nodded eagerly and then stopped suddenly, its eyes grew wide and it began to shake its head instead. “No! No! No stop!” It pulled on the rope again, but Telie just handed it over to Bleys.

“It’s useless…” He said with a sigh. The watch-mage sighed and drew his sabre quickly dragged it across the captive’s neck before it even knew what was happening. As Bleys cleaned his blade, Timotheus cut its ears off and collected them in a sack.

“We should go and kill the kobolds,” Bleys said a few minutes later as they picked their way down to the plain again leaving the stone maze behind them. “We should kill the goblins and the Ruk’Tuk… Kill anything that moves…”

“I have no problem with that,” Telémahkos nodded.

Their bloodlust not sated, the young nobles decided to make their way to the watering hole and set up an ambush there. It was hoped that the goblins came back there every night, and if not, a fight with some kobolds would have been as welcome. As they arrived, a bear was drinking within copse that surrounded it, and they waited for it clear off before entering.

They waited long after the moon set, and then took turns catching cat-naps in the bushes, but except for some wild oxen and easy scarred off jackals, nothing came to the watering hole. Frustrated they crept back to their usual grove in the pre-dawn hours, to plan their strategy for the coming day.


Teflem, the 27th of Quark - 566 H.E. (637 M.Y.)

“As I see it we have three choices: Go back now and warn about the hobgoblins, return to waiting in ambush until some goblins show up, or find and attack their lair,” Telémahkos enumerated the choices as he saw them, after a long, sometimes heated debate as to what to do next.

“Perhaps there is another choice,” Victoria said, tracing in the dirt with a spear. “Those goblins who are set up in ambush must get there from the opposite direction somewhere… Can we not go around and find a new place to set up an ambush?”

Timotheus stood, nodding eagerly. “Falco can help us find a good spot…”

They rested until a couple of hours after noon, when the sun was a little lower near the western hills, and then marched towards the shade of the woods atop the plateau, but instead of going directly to the south as they had been doing Falco led them eastward. They only cut southward slowly, marching slowly along the edge of the woods, until a plain of yellow grass greeted them. In the clear afternoon light they could see the shadow of another forest some miles distant to the southeast. Much closer however, was another wood that might be connected to the one they had just emerged from, so they followed the inner edge west by southwest, looking to see where they might find signs of goblin passage.

They walked some miles, stopping every few hundred yards for Falco to look around, and eventually spotted a watering hole in the middle of the narrowing wedge of tall yellow grass they had been circumventing. Heading out there, as the sun moved behind a cloud, they could see it was not more than a mudhole, and only during more rainy times would it actually be of much use. However, it was a good place to look for prints, and Falco found some, along with some warg droppings. It led them to hurry back across the grass to the north as he followed a track of broken grass that was so obvious in places that Victoria and Bleys pointed them out.

“Something big moves with these goblins,” Falco said.

“Ogres,” Timotheus smiled.

As the trail disappeared into the woods some very large black rocks rose from the soft earth, they decided this was a good place to set their ambush. The rocks were big enough to climb up on, and hide behind other stones piled on there, or protuberances in the stone. The stones were cracked and those places were choked with weeds stamped down by goblin feet. Several large trees and thick brush provided more cover. They spread out and took their spots.

“To avoid some of you being affected by the blinding flash of the pyrotechnics spell, I am going to call out ‘now!’ and wait to hear each of you say you are ready before casting it. ‘Ready’ means you are closing your eyes… Or otherwise turned away…”

The other agreed.

--------------------------------------------------------

Dusk crept across the forest from the east, and with cramped muscles and whispered voices, the nobles began to second-guess their choice.

“Hush! Listen!” Bleys hissed, and the eeriness of the anticipatory silence following his last word chilled them as sound came to their ears. Something was moving through the grass in their direction. There was a deep meaningful grunt, and they all strained in the dying light to see the line of goblins coming from the southeast. There was some quick signaling among the young nobles; doing the best they could to ready themselves. The goblins stopped at the edge of the woods, and a bestial voice yelled at them in the goblin tongue. Now a warg and its rider came into view, and it was coaxing them into the trail in the woods. One of them complained, and was smacked for his insubordination, but all the goblins started to move as the towering figure of an ogre came into sight.

“Dookaloo!” The goblins cried out as they spotted Laarus under a tree, and three of them immediately pulled their small arrows into their bows and let them fly. The missiles bit in the tree, as the sun-worshiper called out to Ra to ignite his armor with an aura of daylight. The goblins cried out in alarm as the light revealed the adventurers in action. Falco leapt up to a taller rock and let an arrow fly down at the approaching ogre, but it flicked it away like a gnat.

The ogre was nearly ten feet tall, and had thick arms misshapen with muscles and covered in a thick dirty jaundiced hide. It had a big head with a twisted face, with black lips and yellow eyes, and was dressed in hide armor dyed in great black splotches tied with thick stitches. It charged up onto the rock where Bleys had waited by Falco before the scout fled, and swung its great spiked club in front of it. The watch-mage let out a grunt of pain as he crumpled with the blow, falling across the rock painfully. He tasted blood and hustled to get away. He rolled off the rock and dragged himself into a crouch behind Laarus.

“Anhur! Battle is upon us! Lend my your strength to push my mighty spear through the armor of my enemies,” Victoria cried out, raising her spear over her head as she stepped out from behind the tree. She cast bull’s strength upon herself, and drew the attention of three more goblin archers, and she winced as they bounced arrows off of her scalemail.

Meanwhile, Timotheus stepped up onto the rock, saber and shield in his hands and gritting his teeth leaned in with a wide swing at the ogre, but the monster let out an amused grunt, and lowered its club to block it. The blade bit into the club harmlessly. Tim looked up at the ogre’s broken toothed smile, and suddenly it was growing closer! Markos had cast enlarge person on Timotheus from his spot in the shadows of a taller rock adjacent to the one the ogre was on. He went on to use prestidigitation to ignite a torch.

The ogre howled with angry glee. “You big, hit better!”

Timotheus groaned as the ogre’s club crunched into his breastplate. He took a half-step back, and let out a bloody cough.

Dunlevey and Victoria were fighting a knot of goblins on ground level. The sellsword herded them with wide swings of his long sword towards the militant, who skewered them into the ground, jerking her spear from their corpses with satisfaction. Suddenly, Dunlevey was nearly twelve feet tall, enlarged by Bleys. Arrows rained around them, while some other goblins took advantage of Tim’s new size, and sent some arrows his way.

“Everyone!” Markos called out. “Tim is gravely injured. Now!”

Laarus reached up and touched Timotheus from behind, calling to Ra to cure light wounds. “Ready!” He called as stepped back against the rock and closed his eyes.

“Ready!” cried Dunlevey. He swung his sword wildly in front of him as he closed his eyes, feeling the bite of goblin arrows in the darkness. Victoria left the goblins to the swordsman, withdrawing to cast a healing spell on Timotheus, squeezing in beside Laarus. “Ready,” she called. Telémahkos cried “ready!” not having joined the battle yet. All he had done was piece the ogre’s calf with a crossbow bolt. It hardly seemed to notice. Tymon, always following his master’s lead, if not his orders, had done much the same and his pinched voice alerted Markos to his readiness as well. “Ready!” cried Falco, as another of his arrows bouncing off the ogre’s iron helmet.

“Ready!” Tim cried, the reverberations of a parried blow running down his arms, and closing his eyes blocked out the hate-filled face of ogre. Its foul breath had been stinging his eyes. His sword cut a nick in the club.

“Ready! Ready! Ready!” Bleys said, turning and withdrawing around the tall rock.

Incendiuris lux! Markos cast, raising his lit torch high.

The goblins cried out in alarm throughout the battlefield. Markos opened his eyes and smiled to see the smoke rising from his extinguished torch, and many goblins wandering around confused.

The ogre cried out and lowered its club, reaching for its eyes. Telémahkos leapt into the fray, rolling around it. Timotheus smiled, ”Let’s see how you like it now!” He cut deep gash in the thing’s hide armor, and blood billowed from beneath. The ogre’s bellows echoed across the dark forest beyond Laarus’ dancing daylight, and then it bellowed again as the priest of Ra stepped up on the rock, to fill in the space Tim left him by sidestepping. Laarus’ flail crunched against the ogre’s knee, and it nearly fell, swinging its club wildly.

“Warg back here! Warg!” Tymon suddenly cried out from the edges of the light. They could see it now, dashing into the light with great bounds, to drag Falco off his feet at his perch.

Bleys the Aubergine leapt up on the large sloped rock and an arrow from his longbow made the warg yelp in its nearly human voice. But it did not flee, instead it wrapped its powerful jaws around Falco’s inner thigh and yanked the scout off his feet again, as there was an explosion of blood. Falco’s scream was cut short as he began to bleed out.

Tymon dropped his crossbow and drew his long sword, hacking at the warg. “Falco’s down!” he called.

“Take out the damn ogre!” Timotheus yelled, stepping back out of the way of the monster’s wide and wild swing. Laarus was not as quick, and got caught under the arm. He took a sharp pain-filled breath and grit his teeth. Victoria lifted her spear and looked for an opening around the ogre.

“Dunlevey! Keep those archers that aren’t blind busy!” she called back over her shoulder.

Materia maxima! Markos cast, and now Laarus of Ra grew to tower over the frantic blind ogre. Timotheus dropped his sword and shield and hefted his heavy flail.

“Come to papa!” he smirked, but the wild swings of the ogre kept his flail at bay. “Flank the f*cker!” he added.

“Brilliant tactics, Sergeant Pepper!” Telémahkos quipped, as he rolled in a position on the other side of the ogre, deftly bouncing up to his feet. The ogre never knew what hit it. The Steel Whip slipped deep up through it legs and out up through their lower abdomen. Telémahkos jerked the rapier out as the great body collapsed. (2) Telie turned to the goblins below and roared with joy, ogre blood flicking off his sword.

On the ground level, Dunlevey sent a goblin head flying into the darkness, and the ones that were blinded finally decided to flee, stumbling slowly, their arms out spread in front of them. Victoria of Anhur turned away from the dying ogre to chase down the remaining goblins.

“There’s a warg up here!” Markos reminded the others, as another of Bleys’ arrows arced over it clattering at the mage’s feet. “Sagitta aquom! he cast, and sent two arrows of glistening liquid light into the thing’s haunch. It yelped again, and took off in the direction of the deeper woods, leaping to avoid another hack from Tymon. Bleys moved to cut it off and shot an arrow that disappeared into the darkness.

“Next time leave some for me,” Timotheus complained to his cousin, as he took large loping steps towards the warg, swinging down with his enormous heavy flail. He shattered the roots of a small tree, where the wolf-thing had been the moment before, but once again it was taking off towards the darkness. Tim winced as goblin arrows bounced heavily against the armor on his back. The blinded goblins had desisted their flight, as their vision had returned. Dunlevey charged into their midst, sending one down with one sharp blow. Timotheus hurried over to join the fight; Telémahkos was close on his tail. Tymon climbed up to check on Falco, while Bleys redirected his final shot at the disappearing warg towards the first goblin that came into line of sight as he turned. The goblin stepped out of the arrow’s trajectory right into Dunlevey’s sword. There were only two goblins left.

“I’m taking this one alive!” Telémahkos called to his companions. He whipped his magical rapier across the goblin archer’s face, and dropped its bow and stepped backwards stunned. Victoria stepped over and slammed the shaft of her spear against the side of its head and it dropped unconscious.

The final goblin wordless taunted Dunlevey as it continued to dance back, flicking arrows at him at point-blank range. He was awash with the blood of goblins, but blood of his own wounds flowed as well. Suddenly, Tymon came charging in from the right and cleaved the goblin’s head open and it collapsed.

“Should we take the ogre alive?” Markos asked, squatting over the dying monster, dagger in hand.

“No!” Telémahkos replied, and Markos did not wait to hear anyone else’ opinion. He cut the ogre’s throat.

End of Session #14

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Notes:

(1) Minotaurs are considered by most to be an extinct race in Aquerra, common only to the stories of the Time Before. The largest population of them is found in the enigmatic United Kingdom of Superior Families.

(2) Telémahkos’ player seems to have incredible luck with rolling critical hits. Keep in mind that one of the drawbacks of his magical rapier is that it only threatens a crit on a natural 20.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #15 – “(Aborted) Goblin Genocide!” (part 1 of 3) (1)

“Hey! Do you see that?” Timotheus pointed to the flickering glow of a fire emerging from with a cave across the great gorge of the King Stones. The signers of the Charter of Schiereiland were making their way back to the grove where they camped nightly to recover from the wounds suffered during their ambush of the goblins. Their best guess was that those they ambushed were on their way to relieve another force set in ambush against them, and they were unsure of their ability to take on another such group so soon.

Making their way back around the portion of the woods they feared the ambush awaited them, they found the main goblin trail once again and were alert for any attacks coming out of the darkness. Thankfully the waxing moon gave some light to see by. Earlier in their journey they had heard the snuffling of a warg some distance away and worried that a second group was seeking them out.

“Or perhaps the second group is avoiding us,” Timotheus suggested. He was helping the critically wounded (2) Falco to walk along. “I mean, we did kill… what? Two-dozen or more of them, all told? They should be scared of us…”

“This new captive may have the information we need to devise a plan of assault on the goblin camp,” Bleys said, pointing to the bound and unconscious goblin Tymon had hanging over his shoulders.

“I see no reason to think it will be any more trustworthy or communicative as the last one,” Telémahkos sighed.

They were not far from the treeline when they saw the glow emerging from the cave. They squatted down behind some brush and trees to watch. Telémahkos pulled out the map and they determined that the light was within the southernmost of the two caves marked as having to do with orcs.

“That was where we saw the figure looking over at us early this morning,” Telémahkos commented.

“Who would be fool enough to make a fire in one of those caves and draw attention to themselves?” Bleys asked. “Either it is someone who does not fear the attention, or a lure of some kind. It could a trick of the goblins to have us go investigate… Or some other monsters looking for diversion…”

“Or they are clueless adventurers who are endangering themselves,” Timotheus reasoned.

“We should investigate,” Victoria suggested. “At the very least watch for a while and see if anyone or anything approaches the cave, or leaves…”

“If someone is in danger they should be warned,” Laarus of Ra said.

“That is idle speculation,” Telémahkos replied. “There is no reason to think there are people there in trouble, or even that our help is sought…”

Timotheus looked around the group and sighed. “Normally, I would say let’s go take a look, just in case someone is just dumb enough to make a campfire and draw monsters their way, but most of us are hurt, and Falco and Bleys are particularly hurt. We cannot risk it.”

“We can always come back and investigate in daylight,” Bleys added.

It was agreed, and the young nobles marched the rest of the way to the grove.

A couple of hours later, the goblin began to stir, and it writhed frantically as it realized it situation. Telémahkos took a deep breath with his back turned to it and then spun around with the most fierce countenance that he could muster, barking in the hobgoblin language, and yanking the captive’s gag off.

“Common! Common! Common! Common! Me talk Common” It yelped as it pathetically kicked at the ground to get away from Telémahkos, who leaned over him menacingly holding his dagger. The goblin did speak the common tongue, or at least a few words of it, which along with the few words of the hobgoblin language it knew, meant Telémahkos could communicate with it much better than he had with the last captive.

“Who are you?” Victoria asked, as she and the others gathered around, a lot more interested in the interrogation now that they could understand part of it. She still had the idea of capturing some kind of goblin officer for better information.

“Me goblin talk common!” It said. “Me Takum'k!” It looked up at Victoria and its eyes grew wider and it raised its bound hands to point at the silver ankh-branded spear, symbol of her god, around her neck.

“Test of Thutmose!” Its fear turned to awe and then fear again as it lifted its swollen head back to take in the rest of the group. “You Test of Thutmose!”

“Are you the boss of your goblins?” Victoria continued her questioning, but Telémahkos waved his hand dismissively.

“Are you an important goblin?” Telémahkos asked it in hobgoblin tongue.

“No goblin less important than Takum’k!”

“We know of goblins less important than you,” Telémahkos replied. “We captured him, too, and then killed him when he betrayed us. You will meet the same fate if you do not do as we say.”

“Oh, Test of Thutmose! You say? Me do! Me pray pray Thutmose!” the goblins replied, growing reverent, and bowing down low to rub the side of its face in the dirt.

“I don’t care who you worship,” Telémahkos replied, yanking the goblin back up to its feet by the scruff of the neck.

“No Thutmose? You like wolf god? Me pray wolf god!” The goblin was obviously trying hard to figure out what would please its captors.

“What is Thutmose?” Bleys the Aubergine asked.

“Eh, some goblin god,” Timotheus replied.

“He is called ‘Son of Thoth’,” Laarus clarified.

“What?” Timotheus was surprised by this information.

“It is debated if Thutmose should be included in the gods of the canon of Ra’s Pantheon, but it according the ancient tablets, Thoth poured all his negative thoughts and feelings into an urn, which was then stolen by Bes. He tried to hide in the home of Anhur, but ended up losing it to the war god in a wager instead. Afraid to steal from Anhur, Bes poured the contents of the urn into a clay statue, and it came to life. This was Thutmose.”

“What does that have to do with goblins?” Bleys asked.

“It said that Thutmose created figures out of the clay of the River Prime and poured into each of them a little of the negative energy that was originally Thoth’s. It was in this way that goblins were made. According to legends of the hobgoblins, Anhur trained Thutmose in the arts of war, and afterward he came back and created new and better figures from the clay. These were hobgoblins…”

“Yes! Thutmose! You Test of Thutmose!” The goblin echoed Laarus, and the priest sneered.

“Who calls us ‘Test of Thutmose’?” Telémahkos asked the goblin, raising his hand to threaten a slap.

“The Masters!” Takum’k cringed and then jabbered on quickly in a hodge-podge of tongues. Telémahkos had to stop the creature and make it start over several times, and then asked some questions. He let out a sigh.

“The hobgoblins are gone,” Telie said, turning to the others. “They left soon after we arrived. We are the ‘Test of Thutmose’ because the goblin tribe has to prove itself by defeating us… They took the ‘Box of Magic Sticks…”

“The box of wands?” Bleys asked.

Telémahkos nodded, and continued. “They killed the shaman because he served the wolf god, and they also killed the alpha warg…”

“How will they know if we have been defeated if they have gone?” Victoria asked.

“Don’t you get it?” Markos laughed. “They aren’t coming back. They wanted the Box of Wands, and they got it the easy way.”

“There’s more,” Telémahkos said. “There was a priest of Thutmose among them, but also a militant of Anhur…”

“What!?” Timotheus was dumbfounded. “A hobgoblin militant of Anhur?! Can that happen?”

Victoria’s head bowed a bit as she replied, “It has been known to happen… Anhur is concerned with war and honor, and whatever else, it seems hobgoblins are capable of these…”

“But we can fight ‘im, right?” Tim was worried.

“Many times in history Militants of Anhur have found themselves on opposite sides of conflicts,” Victoria answered with great seriousness in her tone. “It does our god honor for us to test ourselves against each other. However, if he were to challenge me to a duel, I must be allowed to fight him alone, no matter what the outcome.”

“That’s fine,” Tim smiled. “And if it kills you, we kill it!”

Victoria of Anhur furrowed her brow. “I should hope that if that time came you would respect my wishes…”

“Yeah, sure… Of course!” Timotheus rolled his eyes and tapped his forehead when Victoria was not looking.

Telémahkos did some more questioning, and guessed that there were more than twenty-one goblins left at their camp. In fact, he had a feeling the number might be closer to sixty or eighty, led by a chieftain that was ‘powerful and sneaky’. It could not tell him exactly how many ogres were around, but did mention a particularly big one called ‘Dunka.’

Once again, the signers of the Charter of Schiereiland fell to arguing their next move. The debate came to down to whether or not they should try to track the hobgoblin ambassadors, or whatever they were, or if their abilities were best put towards destroying the entire goblin tribe.

“We may not be able to pursue these hobgoblins, but we may be able to deprive them of what resources they came to secure for any war to come, While these vermin all hate us humans anyway, perhaps it is time we remind them why,” Bleys said in his even tone, his voice not betraying any malice, just placid desire to do away with every last one of the Flor’Choo.

“I don’t want to do either,” said Markos. “I want to investigate this pearl thing. It is that that interests me most.”

“The hobgoblins have too great a lead,” Bleys reasoned. “It seems foolish to think we catch them, even if we knew where they were going…”

“They came from the north…” Tim offered.

“But how do we know they went back home, wherever that is? They might be moving on to another tribe to try to recruit that one…”

“The recruitment was a ploy,” Laarus of Ra commented. “They wanted the ‘Box of Wands’ and now they have it and can use it against Schiereiland. I think it is our duty to go after them if we can…”

“For once old baldie here makes sense,” Timotheus said.

Consulting Falco, however, they realized that finding the hobgoblin trail would require searching the area in and around the goblin camp, as that was the last place they were known to be, and thus the only place a trail to follow could reasonably expected to be found.

“But that also means we may have to kill all the goblins in that area to get the time and peace we need to search for a trail,” Falco said in his typical whisper of a voice. “That is, if signs of a trail are not destroyed in the process of the melee…”

“Then perhaps we should just return to Thricia and warn the authorities of this danger,” Laarus of Ra suggested.

The young nobles agreed to sleep on it and discuss again in the morning.

…to be continued…
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Notes:

(1) Session #15 was played on Sunday, September 2nd, 2007.

(2) Falco was bitten by a warg in Session #15 and dropped to negative hit points.
 



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