The Goblin Messiah
Towards the Badlands
Octorum 23, 887 Af.
Morning came, and the group gathered to plan their next move. Satisfied with what the Goblins had done the day before in repairing the palisade, Kasret planned to set them to building more defenses. He quickly ran into a problem, as there were no longer any trees in the general area that could be cut down to build them. It would take sending them a good distance back towards the river to get the material required, and it did not seem likely that they could do so without someone to direct them in the plan. While either Enarzu, Kasret, or Durdeg would have been ideal because they would command the respect of the others, they had other business and couldn't divert for this. They hired Daniel to do it, who agreed to an outrageous fee when considering it was to protect his home as well. But the deal was struck, and Kasret sent most of the goblins to cut trees and drag them back to town, only keeping 20 of them with him to serve as a war band. He rounded up as many of the leftover weapons they had, finding enough short bows and scimitars to let them fight.
The group discussed what the best path forward was, wondering if they should take the time to build up defenses, go meet with the Duke's forces traveling towards them, or head into the badlands to meet the threat at its source. Eventually, they decided that they would strike out to the mine as an initial sortee, and then determine whether to push on or fall back.
The group set out on the hard packed dirt that served as a road. The small river that flowed through Calementum snaked off to the north, coming from somewhere in the hills beyond the mine. The scraggly grass soon gave way to rocky hills and sand. The pathway began to wind between the hills, and they were soon walking two miles for every mile closer they came to their destination. Between the owl and Sancho, they were able to make good progress without being lost, and began to close in on the mine.
The owl circled and returned, indicating danger ahead. When it came back, it relayed to Sif that there was a force of ogrillons moving nearby. The group decided they were better off handling small groups when they could, so they followed Sancho's path intercept path. They came upon the ogrillons within minutes, and battle was joined.
The ogrillons were no match for the party, and fell quickly. They concentrated their attacks on Durdeg, and he took a few scratches and bruises, but was not badly hurt. With the band dispatched, they continued on.
The owl again signaled them, although without the indication of danger so much as curiosity. There was a strange rock formation ahead, and it looked like one of the rocks might have moved. They approached cautiously, slowly coming around the sandstone hills that surrounded the rock formation. When they did, they recognized that at least two of the rocks were rock trolls, and what looked to be a drum made from stone laid nearby. This presented a question - the rock trolls that had defeated them at Orchid's cabin were incredibly powerful, but when they were present at the battle for Calementum they did nothing but beat their war drums for the giant. They took a risk, and approached enough for the trolls to know they were there.
The trolls turned to them, and moved their heads as though they were sniffing the air. The larger of the two approached the party, and honed in on Kasret, reaching towards his depleted bag of gems. When Durdeg saw what it was doing, he reached into his bag of holding and withdrew his own bag. They gave the troll a cheap gem, which it promptly ate. The smaller of the trolls got the drum and began to pound a beat. The trolls signaled to the party, and started to lead them away from the circle. The group quickly decided to follow.
They were led into a cave, with scores of rock trolls laying in various clusters. They attempted trading coins, which the trolls didn't seem to care about much, but they were very interested in any gems. They found a potion that the trolls traded for, and walked away probably on the worse end of the trade, but at least having learned something about the trolls. They set off, and soon closed in on the mine.
Sancho let them know they were close, and Sif directed the owl to scout overhead. From above, the owl could see a slot canyon with one entrance. Even that was just an opening in the rock, with an arch crossing over the top. The cliff sides rose fifty feet above the canyon floor, with flat tops that quickly turned to steep slopes back down to the packed dirt paths. One of those paths twisted its way to the arch, which narrowed to an opening of about fifteen feet across at the base. Beyond, the open field stretched backwards well over one hundred feet, although less than a hundred feet wide at the widest. There was a group of orcs sitting around off to one side, and four ogres guarding the arch and the opening to the mine.
As they came to the archway, Durdeg caused his boots to cling to vertical surfaces, and climbed the cliffs. He tied off a rope, allowing Sif, Sharlot, and Kasret and the Goblins to reach the top. Durdeg then clung to the side of the rock arch, out of view of the ogres but within striking distance. Faora moved up into place near the archway, and the group prepared to strike.
Sif was able to rain fire down on the orcs, the ball exploding in the middle of the group. Several died in the initial hit, while the rest scattered. Faora ran in and attacked an ogre, drawing its attention. Durdeg came over the top to attack and fade, while V8 circled for an opening. The archers on the ridge rained down arrows, putting down the remaining orcs before turning their attention to the ogres charging from the mine entrance.
Faora was caught in the open, and began to be hit from all sides by the ogres. Durdeg and V8 took on of the close by ones out early, taking some of the pressure off, and the ranged fighters up on the ridge helped by putting down one of the ogres before it could reach her. But before Sif could bring more magic to bear, one of the goblins turned traitor and attempted to throw her from the cliff. She dug in her heels and was able to hold on, but the group on top of the cliffs had to take care of the attacker.
It soon became clear this was no ordinary goblin. It shrugged off blows that would have destroyed even the strongest of goblins, while it killed several of the other goblins and got a few shots through at Sif. The archers continued to fire below, but without the heavy hitters, two ogres were able to get to Faora and surround her. They both hit her several times with their axes, and she was driven to the ground, blood coming from several cuts. She was fading fast, when Durdeg and V8 overcame the last of the ogres, and Durdeg rushed to her side. He patched her up with his medical kit, while the others dealt with the traitorous Goblin.
The rest had focused their attacks on the Goblin, and it was starting to take a toll. Sif called up her magic again and stabbed the Goblin's brain with magical energy, rending its mind and leaving a trackable piece inside of it. It was enough - the Goblin opened a hole in space and stepped through, vanishing from sight. Sif immediately could feel where it was, and pointed to it five hundred feet to the northwest, and running full speed away. It broke from their line of sight, and Sif felt it pause, then speed up to much faster than they had seen a goblin move. She knew they couldn't catch it, so they all headed down to the canyon floor to help tend to Faora's wounds.
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