Monday, May 9, 2011

Arrival at Fort Runhode

They now numbered four. A dwarven warrior with a human mage, druid and ranger. While they didn’t have common goals, they had shared the field in combat and knew they could trust each other. At least three of the companions. The mage, Drenla, was another story. She seemed genuine and good but something wasn’t right in her head. Her spells, while always beneficial, were never what they expected. They usually even surprised her. They were an accepting group so they would fulfill their mission of escorting the mage to Runhode. They could use the money and didn’t want to travel much further in the freakish winter that was before them. Thorian looked forward to the gold. He was slowly collecting the riches he would need to hire an army to take back his ancestral home from the goblins. He felt a flush of rage at the thought of those foul creatures defiling his family home with their presence.

Maribe, the druid, was excited about reaching Runhode. Not so much for the gold but because this was where her sister lived and worked along with Maribe’e niece Jasmine. It had been many months since Maribe had been able to visit and she was looking forward to seeing how much her niece had grown.

They were almost within eye sight of the castle when they heard a commotion behind them. A tall kobold, well tall as far as kobolds go, was running towards them at sprinting speeds. While Kobolds were often considered one of the more enlightened of the humanoid races, they were not all to be trusted. You see, Kobolds worship dragons. The followers of the dragons of light and goodness are responsible citizens and upstanding folk. The followers of evil dragons were not to be trusted and would often attack other travelers on sight.

Thorian stepped in front of Buttercup and raised his shield. Defending the pack animal was his first thought, even before self preservation. Maribe stepped along side him and began chanting the words to one of her powerful spells. The Kobold kept running at them. He had drawn no weapon and had a friendly smile upon his reptilian face.

Drenla shouted out. ‘Hail and well met Silj the Dragonborn”. She turned to the others and added, “Put down your weapons, Silj is a friend and will offer us no threat.”

Neither Maribe nor Thorian did as she asked. This was no Dragonborn as Drenla claimed. Dragonborn are strong and tall, mighty warriors and are considered amongst the greater races of the lands. Kobolds are small and shifty, barely weighting 3 or 4 stones and honor isn’t high on their priority list. Perhaps Drenaa’s confusion that has shown in her spell casting was taking over her memory and perception.

“He not be a Dragonborn” stated Thorian. “Stand your guard, let’s learn his intention. While he isn’t holding his weapons, he is festooned with them.” Sure enough the Kobold was wearing a number of wicked and dangerous looking weapons about his person. Not the least scary of which was a miniature but deadly looking crossbow.

“Of course he isn’t a Dragonborn” stated Drenla with a laugh. “Everyone knows it, well everyone except Silj. Silj is a fine warrior and a friend, please show him your welcome”.

As Silj approached the adventurers recognized the symbol of Bahamut upon his chest. Seeing this mark of lawfullness and honor, they put away their weapons and welcomed him into their traveling band. Introductions were made and the party quickly resumed the walk to Runhode Castle.

Ahead on the hilltop they saw the castle. Walls 20 feet high of cut stone. 4 great towers that afforded a view in all directions topped with Ballista. Pendants of the baron flashing in the wind and the smoke of progress wafting into the air. The smoke was heavy, the forges must be working hard. Or perhaps the cook was preparing a feast.

As they approached the ancient stone fortress they immediately noticed that something was wrong. When they were close enough to see clearly they noticed the walls were without sentry and the mighty doors were open and unguarded. The smoke they had taken for cookfires or a smithy took on a more ominous tone as they came close enough to discover the smell of burned flesh.

Disease or war. The only two options with any merit. Neither good news for Maribe’s family. The party rushed forward. The fires were still burning. Their may still be time to aid the rightful occupants of Rinehold. They burst through the open gates and into the courtyard ready to meet whatever challenge awaited them.

What they found in the courtyard was horrendous. Bodies stacked up and being burned. Carrying the bodies to the fire were Goblins. Several laborers, warriors and a larger goblin with his face painted white. Clearly in charge of this motley group.

The courtyard showed evidence of battle but no humans were in sight. The walls were empty, the ballista unmanned and a work crane loaded with stones to repair the wall remained where it was left. With a platform of stones suspended above the courtyard, waiting for workers to continue repair of an aging tower. Workers who would most likely never return.

Without a moment’s hesitation battle was joined. These goblins were slain quickly, the team fought together as naturally as if they had trained togther since birth. The brave adventurers working quickly to gain the upper hand and secure the courtyard. Silj, the newest member of the team impressed them all with his ability to deal out massive damage quickly. He fought with a fervor that matched Thorian’s hate for Goblins and Maribe’s desire to discover the fate of her sister.

In moments they were slain. Maribe found an unnatural pit in the middle of the courtyard and yelled down it, looking for survivers. Her heart raced when she heard her sister and niece shout back up. They were safe, at least for now.

Thorian opened the tower door to ascend the wall and secure the ballista, that is when the second wave attacked. Nearly a dozen more goblins rushed out of the tower. Armed and armored and clamoring for blood. The party slew them mercilessly but the odds were looking bad. The goblins were bringing their numbers to bear and Thorian was breaking under the weight of the rush. Silj quickly reviewed the battle and knew it was time for a do or die moment. He leapt over the head of the nearest goblin, neatly shooting him in the back with his crossbow, and raced up the wall. He moves so gracefully it looked as if he was walking across a smooth road. He grabbed the controls of the crane and shifted the stone over the goblin horde. He looked below and saw his allies buckling under the attack but he waited. He saw Thorian take a rock to the head and stumble, still he waited. Ithy the bear was banished back to the spirit realm and still he waited.

Just as it looked hopeless the last goblin entered the courtyard and he saw his moment. He cut the rope and the rocks and crane platform fell upon the goblins below. They were buried under tons of stone and wood, not a single one survived.

The party let out a collective sigh and were about to sit and rest when they heard the warcries of yet more goblins. As one they turned to the postern gate and saw another warband rushing into the courtyard. At the center of them was the largest goblin they had ever seen. His hands were like bear claws and his head was that of a polar bear. A large green stone that glowed with a sickly light pulsed from where it was embedded in his chest.

At the front of the warband was a whitefaced goblin clutching a shield. A shield that bore the symbol of the Brazenhold clan, Thorian’s clan. He leapt forward in rage realizing that these goblins were part of the tribe that sieged and claimed his home. Maribe joined him fighting for her family’s life.

Silj, clearly a master strategist, knew that the Polar bear like totem goblin was more than the party could handle without help. Instead of joining the team he leapt for the closest Ballista and fired it. His shot was perfect but just before the bolt hit the totem beast a goblin stepped in front of it and was killed. The totem beast was spared the shot.

Maribe and Thorian engaged the goblins and used the gatehouse to keep them boxed in while Silj raced from Ballista to Ballista firing the spear sized projectiles at the Totem Beast.

Every shot after the first one was a hit and it wasn’t long before the beast lay dead surrounded by the bodies of his goblin allies. The heroes stood unopposed among them.

Barely able to stand, Thorian limped over to the body of a dead goblin and reclaimed the shield of Brazen Hold. He placed it over his arm. He looked down at the earth and said to his god and his ancestors, “This is the first step in reclaiming what is ours”.

Maribe hurried over to the pit and yelled down for Jenna or Jasmine but no reply came back…….

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